The Food and Drug Administration has approved the HPV vaccine Gardasil 9 for people between the ages of 27 to 45.
The vaccine protects against human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in men.
Prior to Friday's announcement, the vaccine was only approved for younger ages, beginning at age 9 until the age of 26. Health officials had recommended that children receive the shot before they become sexually active.
“Today’s approval represents an important opportunity to help prevent HPV-related diseases and cancers in a broader age range,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.
In a study of 3,200 women between the ages of 27 through 45, the vaccine was 88 percent effective in preventing infection, genital warts, and cervical cancer. Side effects included some pain in the area the shot was administered, as well as swelling, redness, and headaches.
HPV is one of the most common types of sexually transmitted diseases, infecting about 14 million people in the U.S. every year, but it can be prevented with the vaccine. In most women, it goes away within a year or two and doesn't cause any health problems. Still, it can worsen, and can cause men to develop throat cancer.
Cervical cancer was once one of the most common types of deadly cancers among women in the U.S. After the pap smear became part of regular screening, deaths declined by 60 percent from 1955 and 1992, according to the National Institutes of Health. The Gardasil vaccine hit the market in 2006, and then in 2014 Gardasil 9 was approved, which protected against a higher number of HPV strains.
Now, roughly 13,000 women are diagnosed with HPV each year and 4,000 women will die as a result.