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Taking less than 3 doses of HPV vaccine just as effective

New research shows that taking two doses of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may offer just as much protection against cervical cancer as the standard three dosages.

The National Cancer Institute Costa Rica Vaccine Trial investigated a study in which 7,466 women between ages of 18 to 25 were analyzed. These women were either given the HPV vaccine Cervarix or a Hepatitis A vaccine. Twenty percent of the women only got one dose or two doses for a number of reasons.

After four years, the researchers realized that two doses of Cervarix offer the same level of protection as three. In fact, even one dosage offered a significant amount of protection.

“These findings are certainly exciting, but the message is still that we need to give three shots for the best protection possible,” adds Jennifer Wu, OB-GYN of Lennox Hill Hospital in NYC.

However, more investigation (about a decade-long) needs to continue to see whether there exist long-term effects and effectiveness from fewer dosages, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on Thursday.

If less is more, this research could have major impact in regions where resources are poor such as Africa and Central America, which have reportedly high rates of cervical cancer. It might also be helpful in the United States, where girls are vaccinated between ages of 11 and 12.