ACOG: Protecting against HPV should begin early

September 1, 2010

Vaccination against human papillomavirus should begin at age 11 and 12 years, according to ACOG committee opinion.

Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) should begin at age 11 and 12 years, according to an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists committee opinion published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This opinion supports these same recommendations made by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Girls as young as 9 years old can receive the vaccine, and those aged 13 through 26 years who have not received the vaccine should receive catch-up doses and complete the series of 3 vaccinations.

The vaccine is available in both bivalent and quadrivalent varieties. Both offer nearly 100% protection against precancerous changes in the cervix. The quadrivalent version also prevents lower genital tract condyloma. Patients should receive the vaccine before they become sexually active to gain maximum benefit; however, the vaccine can be given after a patient is sexually active.