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Children and young adults should get Merck’s new HPV vaccine to prevent various forms of cancer, including cervical cancer, federal advisers said Thursday.
The Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against more strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer, throat cancer and several other cancers. It can replace the older version of the vaccine, which protected against four strains.
The five new HPV types covered by the vaccine — 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58 — cause about 20 percent of cervical cancers.
HPV is very, very common.
The viruses cause warts and other lesions and two in particular, HPV 16 and HPV 18, cause cancers of the cervix, anus and penis, as well as the mouth and throat. Types 6 and 11 can cause lesions and genital warts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 14 million people become newly infected each year with the cancer-causing forms of HPV.
All boys and girls are supposed to get three doses of the vaccine, starting at age 11 or 12.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says young males and females getting the series can just start getting the new Gardasil 9 vaccine instead. The panel will meet later to decide if boys and girls who have completed the series of three shots should come back for a dose of Gardasil 9.