I am 43 years old. Is it too late for me to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine?

Reproductive Health Vaccines

A: No, it’s not too late. Adults can get the HPV vaccine, too. Talk to your clinician to discuss whether getting the vaccine is right for you.

TL;DR: Originally, the human HPV vaccine was approved for girls and young women aged 9-26. As research has continued, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has extended approval for people ages 9-45, all sexes and genders, to receive the vaccine, with ages 11-26 being an automatic recommendation and people older than 26 having individualized conversations with their clinician.

HPV is a virus that can cause cancers of the:

✔️Cervix, vagina, and vulva
✔️Back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (oropharynx)

The vaccine to protect against HPV was initially recommended for children ages 11-12. Because HPV is a virus that is sexually transmitted, scientists and clinicians initially recommended that children get the vaccine before becoming sexually active. In June 2019, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) expanded its recommendations, stating that adults up to 45 may benefit from the vaccine depending on their circumstances. They recommend that people interested in the HPV vaccine talk to their healthcare team.

Because HPV is responsible for many preventable cancers, ACIP updated its recommendations. This update came after the FDA expanded the approved age range in October 2018 based on data from research conducted between 2006 and 2018. The FDA looked at 16 studies and considered the benefits versus the harms of adults up to 45 years old receiving the vaccine. They found that the benefits– reduction of possible HPV infections – were more significant than the risks of getting vaccinated.

To learn more, click these links:

CDC assesses the quality of HPV vaccine research

Clinicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center explain why adults may benefit

Why immunize against HPV

Stay safe. Stay well.
Those Nerdy Girls

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