These Researchers Say One Dose Of The HPV Vaccine Is Enough

Closeup of a Syringe

Odds are, you or someone you know has received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine since it was first administered over a decade ago in 2006. HPV is the most common STI in America, with recommendations for kids under 15 (girls and boys) to get the vaccine and often in multiple doses.

The HPV vaccine can help prevent pre-invasive cervical disease, which can lead to cervical cancer. It's given in one, two, or three doses, but new research has revealed a single dose is just as effective when it comes to prevention.

Here's what the numbers say.

To conduct their research, Ana M. Rodriguez, M.D., MPH, and her colleagues at the University of Texas analyzed information spanning nine years that looked at HPV-vaccinated and unvaccinated females. The research included 133,082 women and girls, 9 to 26 years old. 

Based on their analysis, just one dose of the vaccine may actually be more effective than multiple.

In fact, 2.65% of the unvaccinated girls, ages 15 to 19 years old, developed pre-invasive cervical disease within five years. Of the girls who received a single dose of the vaccine, 1.62% developed it. 1.99% of the girls who'd gotten two doses developed it, and 1.86% of the girls who'd received three doses developed it.

The research notes, "If one dose of HPV vaccine was sufficient for effective protection, HPV vaccine implementation and scale-up would require less logistics [...] available doses could extend further, and the overall cost would be lower."

Additionally, their analysis found that there wasn't a notable difference in rates of pre-invasive cervical disease for the older age groups within the research (those 20 and above), regardless of whether they were vaccinated for HPV or not. This, the researchers say, highlights the importance of early intervention.

"This study shows the impact of vaccinating at younger ages and its lasting long-term protection against cervical cancer," Rodriguez says. "It is important to educate parents about the need to vaccinate their children."

It's estimated nearly 80 million Americans are living with HPV today, and 14 million more will get it this year. So as far as getting vaccinated, it's never been more important. But thanks to this research, now we may only have to worry about one trip to the doc's, instead of three.

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