No vaccine is perfect, but Gardasil is still recommended
December 1, 2017
We are very appreciative of the thoughtful letter to the editor regarding the use of the Gardasil 9 vaccine to prevent HPV-related cancers.
The points you made deserve discussion. While it is true that some individuals, even newborn children, can be exposed to HPV, the vast majority of infections develop following initiation of sexual activity. The recommended age to initiate the series is between ages 11 and 12, but it can be given as early as 9. The benefit of administration at this time is that it likely predates sexual debut and it also is the time where there is the most robust immune response.
While no vaccine is perfect, HPV vaccines have been shown to be safe and have demonstrated an over 96 percent efficacy in preventing new HPV infections for the strains covered. The strains covered in this vaccine are the ones shown to cause the overwhelming majority of HPV-related cervical, anal and oropharyngeal cancers.
With this in mind, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends Gardasil 9 for all girls between 9 and 26 years of age and boys from age 9 to 21. The goal is not only to provide direct immunity, but also herd immunity through decreased societal burden of the infections.
Therefore, the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance supports the recommendations of NCI, CDC and ACIP that vaccinating is currently the best method to prevent the various HPV related cancers.
As stated by Dr. Kreimer, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Liaison to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “HPV vaccination protects against multiple cancers in men and women for which other means of prevention are not available.”
As with any health-related issue, it is important for each individual to consult their doctor to decide what is best for them. For further information, please visit http://www.headandneck.org
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to raise awareness and save lives.
Michael Moore, MD, Chairman of Health Education Committee
Holly Boykin, MA, CHE, Executive Director
The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance