FDA Approves New Vaccine Against Cervical Cancer

First Posted: Dec 11, 2014 02:18 AM EST

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new vaccine against cervical cancer, known as Gardasil 9, which protects against up to nine strains of HPV; that's up from four strains from the original Gardasil vaccine in 2006.

The new vaccine was approved Wednesday, with health officials hoping that it will prevent roughly 90 percent of cervical, vulvar and anal cancers.

Though there is no treatment for HPV, about 90 percent of HPV infections disappear on their own-likely fought off by the immune system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, it's even possible to contract and fight off the virus without even knowing it.

The FDA approved the vaccine for use in males and females - in ages 9 to 26 for females, and 9 to 15 in males. Vaccination requires three shots over 6 months.

A study conducted last year showed that the vaccine helped cut viral infections in teen girls by about half. Furthermore, it also showed that only about a third of teen girls received all three shots, which is vital for protection against the virus.

Health officials noted that the shots are best given before adolescents become sexually active. They emphasize giving the vaccine to 11- and 12-year-olds.

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