HealthDay News – Fifteen years of widespread vaccination of U.S. children with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is reaping big rewards: A more than 80% drop in new infections has been seen in women and girls under the age of 25.
That could mean an equally big drop to come in a host of dangerous conditions that are linked to HPV infection, including cancers of the cervix, anogenital area and mouth/throat, as well as anogenital warts.
What’s more, a hoped-for “herd immunity” appears to have set in, so that the benefits of HPV vaccination are extending to women who never got the shot, according to researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A team led by Dr. Hannah Rosenblum of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service wrote:
“U.S. data collected through 2018 showed that infections with four strains of HPV targeted by available vaccines “continues to decline among females aged 14 to 19 (88%) and 20 to 24 (81%) compared with before vaccination. [Vaccination efforts began in 2006.]
“The findings also show evidence of indirect protection of unvaccinated females through herd effects in these age groups”
One expert who wasn’t involved in the study said it highlights another win for vaccines.
“The HPV vaccine is a great example of how vaccines in general have benefited society,” said Dr. Adi Davidov, who directs gynecology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.
Davidov believes that, over time, the “decline will be even more pronounced and there will be a significant decline in the rates of [pre-cancerous] cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer.”
Certain strains of sexually transmitted HPV are thought to be the leading cause of cervical cancers. The first vaccine aimed at warding off infection was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006, and it was targeted to four strains of the virus.
In 2015, a vaccine that targeted five additional strains was approved, and these “9-valent” shots have been the standard since 2016.
Current CDC recommendations are that girls and boys aged 11 to 12 receive HPV vaccination, and “catch-up” vaccination is recommended for women through the age of 26 …
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