hpv-2-doseWelcomed news out this fall about immunizations. If children and teens get their HPV vaccine on-time between the age of 11 and 14 years, they won’t need to do 3 doses as previously recommended. HPV vaccine given, starting at age 11, can be just 2 doses now, spaced 6 months apart! Celebration.

This new HPV shot recommendation from the CDC is based on research that has found when younger children are immunized, their immune response is greater at younger ages (age 11 versus age 16, for example). It’s also based on data on durability of the vaccine response — data has found teens immunized in the “tween” years continue to be protected years and years after the vaccine is given. So don’t wait to get teens immunized! In fact, waiting isn’t safer in any way, just leaves your child open to exposure for a longer period of time and the vaccine has the same side effects (most notably pain at the injection site!). Plus, you’re now reducing the amount of shots your child needs from 3 –> 2. Huge win!

The hope in this new recommendation is three-fold: more teens will get immunized on-time, they’ll be better protected from HPV infections and cancer risks early, and it will be easier to complete the entire series. Last year, for example, about half of boys ages 13 to 17 had gotten at least one of the recommended three doses, while about 63 percent of girls had gotten at least one dose, according to the CDC. However, not all teens finish the series and the new recommendation may help. In some areas only about 1/3 complete it.

HPV vaccine is an anti-cancer vaccine.

If your child has started the HPV series but not completed it, there is no reason to re-start the series — those shots still count. Just schedule a visit to finish what they started. If your child is between age 11 and 15 and there has been 6 months since their last HPV shot, under the new recs they will only need one more dose.

New Recommendations For HPV Vaccine:

  • The first dose of the HPV vaccine is routinely recommended at 11 years of age at the same time teens get their Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) and meningitis (MCV4) vaccine. Some children who are high-risk can start the HPV vaccine at age 9 years. The second dose of the vaccine should be administered 6 to 12 months after the first dose.
  • Teens and young adults who start the series after age 15 will continue to need three doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancer-causing HPV infections. Another reason to not wait.
  • Adolescents aged 9 through 14 years who have already received two doses of HPV vaccine less than 6 months apart, will require a third dose.
  • Three doses are still recommended for children/teens with weakened immune systems aged 9-26 years.

Studies have shown that 2-doses of HPV vaccine work very well in younger adolescents and we expect the same long-lasting protection with 2 doses that we expect with 3 doses.

If your child already received 3 doses, don’t worry, no cause for concern. That third dose will act as a booster and protect them from HPV warts, infections, and cancer-causing lesions!