Source: New York Times.com
The Food and Drug Administration has announced that the vaccine Gardasil 9 is now approved for men and women aged 27 to 45 years old. It had been previously approved only for minors and people up to age 26.
The vaccine works against nine strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus, which is sexually transmitted. The virus has many strains and can cause gential warts as well as cancers of the vulva, anus, penis and parts of the throat. Most adults encounter at least one strain at some point in their lives.
If a person has already been exposed to a particular strain of HPV, the vaccine will not work against that strain. For that reason, vaccination has been strongly recommended for young people before they become sexually active.
According to Dr. Lois M. Ramondetta, a professor of gynecologic oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston: “It’s a prevention vaccine. The best time to get it is before you turn 13 and have any intimate activity at all.”
“But, that said, it protects against nine types of HPV, so if you have one of the types, you still can be protected from other HPV types.” Younger people need two shots, but older ones will need three, spaced a few months apart.
The approval was based on a study in women ages 27 to 45, showing that an earlier version of the vaccine was highly effective in preventing persistent HPV infection, genital warts, vulvar and vaginal precancers, cervical precancers and cervical cancers related to the virus types covered by the vaccine. The vaccine’s effectiveness in men ages 27 to 45 is inferred from the data in women, from its efficacy in younger men and from evidence that it created immunity in a study of men in the same age group.
Dr. Ramondetta added that tumors affecting part of the throat — called oropharyngeal cancers — caused by HPV are rising, particularly in men. The vaccine is believed to help prevent them.
The most common side effects of the vaccine include soreness at the injection site, swelling, redness and headaches.