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HPV Vaccine Offers Long-term Protection, Study Finds

Update Date: Aug 18, 2014 01:16 PM EDT

The findings from a new study suggest that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can protect people for at least eight years.

"The body's response against HPV by making antibodies looks very good at eight years, and it seems like no booster doses will be necessary," said lead researcher Dr. Daron Ferris, director of the HPV epidemiology and prevention program at Georgia Regents University in Atlanta, reported by Philly. "There are all indications that the vaccine is safe, and it looks like it's effective in preventing genital warts and other diseases caused by HPV."

HPV, particularly strains 16 and 18, has been linked to the development of cervical cancer. Other strains have been tied to genital warts and oral or throat cancers in both men and women. In this study, the researchers recruited 1,781 boys and girls between the ages of nine and 15 who were not sexually active. The participants were randomly assigned to the vaccine or the placebo group. The researchers conducted a follow-up study to look for the presence of antibodies against HPV after eight years.

"It is very promising that we now know that we are going to have protection for at least eight years," Dr. Adriana Cadilla, a pediatrician at Miami Children's Hospital, said.

The researchers found that in the vaccine group, boys and girls had signs of antibodies, which suggested that the vaccine is effective. Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends boys and girls starting at the ages of 11 or 12 to get vaccinated. Despite mounting evidence that the vaccine protects against HPV, only 57 percent of girls from 11-15 get the first dose of the vaccine while 33 percent get all three doses. For boys, only 34 percent get the first dose. 14 percent of boys end up getting all three shots.

"If you haven't had your child vaccinated, please get them vaccinated," Ferris said. "It's more dangerous not to give the vaccine to your children. Thousands of people will continue to die each year if they are not vaccinated."

The study, "Long-term Study of a Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus Vaccine," was published in the journal, Pediatrics.

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