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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Older adults are now starting to get the HPV vaccine, following expanded recommendations from the FDA.
It’s an effort to curb the spread of the sexually transmitted disease that’s already infected 80 million Americans.
The vaccine prevents a variety of cancers. Until now, it was only recommended for people between the ages of 9 and 27, but now federal health officials say every man and woman up to the age 45 should get the HPV vaccine.
Hester Villanueva, 40, is getting the HPV vaccine in Moorestown. He is part of a new wave of adults who are getting protected from the sexually transmitted virus.
“I heard about all the health benefits, I figured if I can prevent myself from getting any type of cancer, then I’ll do it,” said Villanueva.
Some of the cancers caused by HPV include cervical and throat cancer.
“It’s a very common virus, so about 14 million Americans a year are exposed to the HPV virus,” said Dr. Sangita Doshi.
Dr. Doshi, with Virtua Health, says the vaccine is most effective before people become sexually active, but new research shows it’s still safe and effective after that.
The new federal recommendation expands the age for vaccination from 9 to 27 to the age of 45.
“At any time in your life you can be exposed to new strains of HPV and the vaccine covers nine different strains of the virus,” said Dr. Doshi.
Doctors say it’s especially important for people who have multiple partners, but she’s also recommending it to patients like Hester who’s in a long-term monogamous relationship.
“You never know, in the future you may be exposed to something and at that point it might be too late to get the vaccine,” added Dr. Doshi.
Hester says after being married nine years, she’s protected, just in case.
The Virtua practice manager says after making sure her daughter got the HPV vaccine, she’s now also encouraged her husband to get it too.
The CDC says HPV infections are “so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.”
About half of adolescents in the country are up to date on the HPV vaccine.
Younger people need two shots, but the older ones will need three, spaced a few months apart.