Should Women Over 26 Get Gardasil Shots?

HPV vaccination has the ability to virtually eliminate cervical cancer, and many of the diseases that HPV causes. In the USA we know that we should vaccinate girls and boys around age 9-12. By the time they are teens, the vaccine is still recommended, but this is late to begin the shot as many have been exposed
. For individuals over the age of 26 there is no FDA recommendation regarding the shot, but you and your own gyno (or a young man and his physician) can determine if you would benefit by spending your own money on getting the vaccine. Gardasil, the HPV prevention vaccine for types 6,11,16,18 has been studied in about 3200 women from ages 26 to 45 to judge the effectiveness in preventing the acquisition of these types of HPV and the diseases they cause. On the surface it was a disappointing as there was no difference is the numbers of cervical cancers, cervical dysplasia of high grade (CIN 2/3) no any difference in the rats of adenocarcinoma in situ (early cervical gland cancers). The women given the vaccine did develop some immunity to this vaccine, but it is not known how strong an immune response would be required, because a few of these women who did not test positive to the HPV types did break through and acquire the virus or developed disease. These may have been patients who had HPV in the past, and this was just not able to be detected in this study. In general it was about 80% effective in preventing HPV + tests for the vaccine HPV types, it was about 85% effective at preventing any dysplasia, and it was about 87% effective at preventing warts caused by the HPV types in the vaccine. These are very good numbers. If you had not been sexually active prior to getting the vaccine, you would probably anticipate being in the successful group. If you want to get tested for the presence of the virus before making your decision, it's also something you could discuss with your provider, but this is not a standard approach to vaccinations. As we said, lets get the girls and boys vaccinated in their youth for effective and long lasting protection.


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