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CDC Committee Votes to Expand HPV Vaccine Recommendations for Men Up to Age 26

A US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) committee voted Wednesday to change the recommendations for human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to cover men up to age 26, and also stated that people through age 45 could benefit from the vaccine to prevent cervical and other cancers.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 10-to-4 to expand the recommended HPV vaccine “catch-up” age for men from 21 to 26, matching the existing guidelines for women.

Currently, the CDC advises 2 doses of the vaccine be administered to 11- and 12-year-olds, sometimes as early as age 9. Older boys and girls starting the vaccine series at age 15 or older may require 3 doses administered over a 6-month period. If they were not vaccinated as children, women up to age 26 and men up to age 21 had been recommended to receive “catch-up” doses.

The decision to extend the catch-up age for men to 26 is “a very good decision, it’s a solid decision…because there had been a difference between males and females before, so that clarifies that confusion,” William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Contagion®.

In October 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted to expand use of Gardasil 9, the 9-valent, recombinant HPV vaccine, to older populations between the ages of 27 and 45.

The CDC committee also decided that people through age 45 could benefit from receiving the vaccine but acknowledged that those choices should be made through shared clinical decision making.

“There are many people over the age of 27 who are not in monogamous relationships and some of those individuals, particularly those previously in a monogamous relationship, [are] back on the social scene and they may want to get protected,” Schaffner said “Obviously the older we are, the more likely it is statistically that we have had contact with the human papillomavirus…On the basis of shared clinical decision making, it’s a generous and appropriate decision.”

About 14 million Americans are infected with HPV each year, according to the CDC. Furthermore, about 11,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer caused by certain HPV viruses. More than 4000 of those women will die. 

The CDC is not bound to accept the committee’s vote, but generally implements its decisions as guidance for US doctors.
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