The fight against the human papillomavirus (HPV) got a big boost on Friday when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the HPV vaccine for men and women in the 27 to 45 age group. Previously, the Gardasil 9 vaccine was only approved for use in people ages 9 to 26. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80 million Americans are infected with HPV, with an additional 14 million infected each year. Although most instances of HPV go away on their own without any ill effects, some strains will remain in the body and can lead to deadly cases of cervix, vagina, and vulva cancer in women and penis cancer in men. The virus also causes genital warts and anal cancer in both genders. The Gardasil 9 vaccine was approved in 2014 for use in males and females ages 9 to 26. The current vaccine protects against nine types of HPV diseases. After a 3 1/2 year study of the effectiveness of the vaccine, the FDA made the decision to expand its reach to older age groups. The study followed 3,300 women and concluded that Gardasil 9 was 88 percent effective in the prevention of a variety of cancers and precancerous lesions, as well as genital warts. The study also evaluated the side effects and safety of the vaccine in a pool of 13,000 men and women. The most common side effects were found to be redness, swelling, and discomfort at the site of the injection. As a result of the FDA’s decision to expand the recommended age group range for vaccination, more people will be able to claim it on health insurance. With FDA approval, the drug should be covered by most insurance companies, saving individuals up to $500 in out-of-pocket expenses. The Gardasil 9 vaccine is generally given over the course of three separate doses spaced a few months apart for maximum effectiveness.