According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), young girls may get the same benefits from less doses of the HPV vaccine compared to older women. Study authors hope that the findings will result in higher rates of girls’ HPV immunization in the U.S., which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have deemed “unacceptably low.”
The study finds that giving girls aged nine to 13 two doses of the HPV vaccine — commonly called Gardasil — is enough to immunize them. “Nine to 13-year-old girls make a much better anti-body, a better protective response to the vaccine than 16 to 26 year olds,” said Dr. Simon Dobson, lead study author and University of British Columbia pediatrician. That could potentially convince more American parents to get their children vaccinated by making the process less cumbersome, since the HPV vaccine is usually administered over the course of three doses to older girls and women.
This latest study gives credence to federal officials’ recommendations that girls — and boys — receive the vaccination beginning at age 11 as a preventative measure. Many American parents have ignored those suggestions, pointing to the statistic that most people who are infected with HPV do not develop cancer. However, that’s a risky bet given that there is no way to know who is at risk of contracting cervical cancer from an HPV infection, and who isn’t.
A mere 30 percent of U.S. women between the ages of 19 and 26 have received one or more doses of the HPV vaccine — a percentage that some surveys indicate may fall even further. That may partly be because many parents are swayed by conspiracy theories endorsed by fear-mongering politicians that Gardasil is unsafe — a claim that has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked by the scientific community.