Is it ok to get the HPV vaccine when you are 27 years old?

by Rachel on May 13, 2011

The vaccine is for women 26 and younger, but it is a shot given three times over a course of 6 months, what if when you get the first shot at 26 and the last two you turn 27? Is there a risk or failure?
Is there no benefit if a woman is overage for the final shots? It is a shot meant for women 26 and younger.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

ChevalierCourageux May 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

I shouldn’t hurt to get vaccine.

Lisa K May 13, 2011 at 11:23 am

The answer to your question is not known- yet. Gardasil is licensed for ages up to 26 because this is the age group it was tested in. Merck is planning studies of Gardasil in women (and men?) over 26 but the effectiveness will not be known until then. If your doctor wants to prescribe it “off-label” he can. There are two issues with the effectiveness of HPV vaccine in older women. One is that HPV becomes more common in older age groups, so the ideal time to vaccinate is when women are younger. The other is that immune response to vaccines declines with age. Between the two factors, it is more difficult to establish vaccine effectiveness in the older groups. However there are women who have not been exposed, who are older, (beginning sexual activity at a later age, for example), that might benefit from it. Obviously there is not a magic cutoff from age 26 to 27, compared to 40 or 50. So I wouldn’t think there would be much loss of effectiveness, if you can get a doctor to prescribe it.

There is also a slightly accelerated course- minimum intervals of 4 weeks between shot 1 and 2, and 12 weeks between doses 2 and 3, if someone is running up against the 27-year mark.

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