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CDC now recommends just two HPV vaccine doses for preteens

WASHINGTON POST: Children who start getting vaccinated against human papillomavirus before 15 need only two doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided Wednesday.

Its previous recommendation was for a three-shot regimen, but studies have shown that two doses work just as well. Experts predict that the simpler, more flexible timeline will result in higher rates of HPV vaccination, which has lagged among both girls and boys.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which counsels the CDC on the nation’s vaccine schedule, voted Wednesday for the change. Several hours later, CDC Director Tom Frieden accepted the panel’s action.

Under the new schedule, the first of two doses of the HPV vaccine should be administered at 11 or 12, although it could be given as early as 9, as under the previous guidance. The second dose would be administered six to 12 months after the first dose.

The new recommendation does not apply to adolescents who begin getting vaccinated after they turn 15. They should still get three shots over a six-month period, the panel said.

The HPV vaccine prevents cervical, vaginal, anal, and head and neck cancers, as well as precancerous lesions and genital warts. The most widely used vaccine is Gardasil, manufactured by Merck.

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