Gardasil HPV Vaccine Now Requires Fewer Doses

Tori Marsh
Tori Marsh, MPH, is on the Research Team at GoodRx, and is the resident expert on drug pricing and savings.
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Good news in the world of vaccines! It is now easier for preteens to get Gardasil, the cervical cancer vaccine that protects against human papillomavirus (HPV).

This Wednesday, the federal government, along with the CDC, updated its recommendation for the HPV vaccine. Now, preteens only need two doses of the HPV vaccine, rather than three. Additionally, the CDC has said that the vaccine works better if spaced six to twelve months apart. This means that the vaccine can easily be given at annual check-ups, and reduces the number of doctor visits needed to get vaccinated.

First off, what is human papillomavirus?

HPV is a strain of viruses that can cause skin warts, cervical cancer, anal cancer, and cancers of the penis, throat, and tonsils. HPV can affect both men and women, and 79 million americans are currently infected.

HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), meaning that you can be infected by having sex with someone who has the virus. It often has no signs or symptoms, and it can be difficult to know if you have HPV.

More information on the human papillomavirus can be found here.

Who should get vaccinated?

Boys and girls ages 11-12 should get vaccinated. However, men up to age 21 and women up to age 26 can still receive the vaccine.

What is the vaccine?

Currently, there are three vaccines, approved by the FDA, to prevent HPV—Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cevarix. These vaccines produce antibodies that protect you from getting HPV. The majority of people receive Gardasil 9, as it prevents against more virus strains than the other two.

The good news is, the vaccine is even more effective than doctors previously believed. According to a recent study, cervical cancer, and pre-cancers have been reduced by 50% in the past 8 years.

What does this update mean?

It is very rare for vaccine regimens to be updated, and simplified, so this is exciting news.

In the past, when three doses were recommended, fewer boys and girls received the full vaccine regimen—so simplifying the dosage will hopefully increase the amount of people receiving the vaccine. Also, fewer doses means more money saved!

-Tori Marsh

Tori Marsh is GoodRx’s junior medical editor and consumer savings expert.

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