HealthDay News — The vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) infection appears even more effective than previously believed, according to a report published online September 29 in JAMA Oncology.

Cosette Wheeler, PhD, a professor of pathology and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and colleagues collected data on young women tested for cervical cancer with Pap tests from 2007 to 2014, who were part of the New Mexico HPV Pap Registry. On average, 40% of girls aged 13 to 17 in New Mexico had received all three doses in 2014.  

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“After eight years of vaccination, the reduction in the incidence of cervical neoplasia, including pre-cancers, have been reduced approximately 50%. This is greater than what was expected,” Wheeler told HealthDay. The study also showed that the protection appears to occur even when only one or two of the recommended doses of the vaccine are given. “People thought that three doses of vaccine were necessary, but there are a lot of people who are getting one and two doses, and people are getting protection from one or two doses,” she said.

Although this is not the first report to show the effectiveness of the vaccine, it’s the first to show declines in precancerous lesions across a large population, Wheeler said. The researchers also found that the reductions in the number of precancerous lesions were greater than anticipated. “Parents and doctors should pay attention. These vaccines are highly efficacious,” Wheeler said. It’s up to doctors to be sure kids are vaccinated, she added. “It’s their job, just like other vaccines, to provide them to their patients. They are the key to get this done.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, manufacturers of HPV vaccines

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