Giving HPV Vaccine at Young Age

Last Modified: January 14, 2010

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Why do the vaccines have to be given at such a young age?

Answer

Christina S. Chu, MD, Assistant Professor of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

The Gardasil vaccine is a prevention vaccine. It is not a treatment vaccine. It is much more effective when given prior to any HPV exposure (as discussed above, HPV can be transmitted just by rubbing and touching which kids may engage in before intercourse). Also, the studies show that the vaccine is more effective in younger kids than in older adolescents. The immune systems in younger people have a more favorable response to the vaccine (the vaccine is more immunogenic the younger the child).

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series, How Much Do You Know About HPV? View the entire transcript here.