The CDC says herd immunity may now be protecting even those who haven't received the HPV vaccine.
New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a major decrease in HPV infections since a vaccine was introduced in the U.S.
The CDC report says the numbers "show evidence of indirect protection of unvaccinated females through herd effects in these age groups,"—meaning that even those who have not gotten the shot are benefitting from it.
The CDC says HPV vaccines are highly effective and offer protection not just against HPV but also for some types of HPV-related cancer. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends the shot for all kids beginning around 11 or 12 years old, though it can be started as early as 9. The AAP also notes it can be a two or three dose vaccine, depending on what age a child gets started.
Some moms and dads have balked at giving the HPV vaccine to their children, but doctors want them to take a close look at the numbers—and the potential benefits. "Some parents don't understand why you would give a vaccine to 12-year-olds to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. They are equating it with giving a 12-year-old a condom," Dr. Nina Shapiro told NBC News. "But this is a cancer-preventing vaccine."
The National Cancer Institute says almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, which is also linked to types and anal and oropharyngeal cancers. In all, experts estimate that about 36,000 cases of cancer diagnosed in the U.S. every year are a result of HPV. Worldwide, that number jumps to more than 600,000 per year.
The Gardasil HPV vaccine is approved for use in people ages 9 to 45—if you're interested in getting the shot for yourself or your child, we always recommend talking to your doctor to help make the right decision for your family.
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