If You Didn't Get the HPV Vaccine Before Age 26, You May Be Eligible to Get It Now

Update, Jan 18, 2019: Findings published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases found that only 16 percent of adolescents in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against HPV by the time they turn 13, even though the national recommendations are for pre-teens aged 11 and 12 to get the vaccine.

Original post: The HPV vaccine can help prevent complications and diseases associated with the human papillomavirus including genital warts, cervical cancer, and cancers of the vulva, anus, penis, and parts of the throat. But while the CDC recommends kids and preteens (boys and girls) get the vaccination to prevent HPV infections, the FDA has now approved Gardasil 9 for a wider range of people: males and females ages 9 to 45.

Previously, Gardasil 9 was only FDA-approved for ages 9 to 26. The vaccine, as the name suggests, protects against nine strains of the human papillomavirus. The previous iteration of the vaccine, which was just called Gardasil and approved by the FDA in 2006, only covered four of the strains of HPV. It's no longer distributed in the US. Now, not only are more people eligible to be protected from the dangers of HPV, but also more strains of it.

"Today's approval represents an important opportunity to help prevent HPV-related diseases and cancers in a broader age range," Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in an official FDA press release on Oct. 5. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that HPV vaccination prior to becoming infected with the HPV types covered by the vaccine has the potential to prevent more than 90 percent of these cancers, or 31,200 cases every year, from ever developing."

According to the CDC, 14 million Americans are infected with HPV every year. Additionally, 12,00 women are diagnosed with, and 4,000 women die from, cervical cancer caused by certain strains of HPV annually.

If you never got the HPV vaccine and currently fall within the new age range, you should consider getting Gardasil 9 to protect against potentially harmful cancers and complications. Talk to your doctor to see if Gardasil 9 is a good option for you.