Most people have likely heard of the HPV vaccine.
Since 2006, the vaccine has been recommended for children as young as nine, all the way up to adults age 26.
The HPV vaccine is designed to protect against the human papilloma virus -- the virus primarily responsible for causing cervical cancer, as well as some other sexually-transmitted cancers.
Dr. Salena Zanotti, a women’s health physician at Cleveland Clinic, said the new recommendations are designed to provide more protection to more people.
Children are typically vaccinated in order to receive protection before they’re sexually active.
However, Zanotti said even though the vaccine provides better protection at a younger age, there is still some protection in receiving it at an older age.
“A lot of people are not sexually active until later in life, and many people have multiple partners and are not monogamous after the age of 26,” she said. “These individuals still want to get HPV coverage to protect themselves.”
Zanotti said it’s becoming more common for women who have been HPV negative their whole life to acquire the virus in their forties if they have a new partner.
She said HPV is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease and even if a person has only been with someone who’s had one other partner in their life -- it is still possible to get HPV.
Zanotti said the decision on whether to get the vaccine is an individual one and one that should be discussed with a health care provider.
“If you’re going to be with the same partner for the rest of your life, and you’re HPV negative, you probably don’t need it,” Zanotti said. “Unfortunately, none of us know exactly what the future’s going to hold for us, and so, if things may change in your partner situation -- you may have a new partner, who already has HPV -- this vaccine may give you protection.”