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National NOW Times >> Winter 2007  >> Article

HPV Vaccine Added to CDC's Official Vaccination Schedule

By Holly Anne Manning, Publications Coordinator

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has formally included the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in its recommended vaccination schedule starting this year, recommending that all girls receive the vaccine at age 11 or 12.

The CDC reports that the vaccine — brand name Gardasil — has proven nearly 100 percent effective in preventing the four strains of HPV that are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. In June 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine, which costs approximately $360, for women and girls between the ages of nine and 26.

"The CDC and the FDA made the right decision for women and their health," NOW President Kim Gandy says. "They are literally saving women's lives."

Cervical cancer kills nearly 4,000 U.S. women each year, making the vaccine difficult for religious and political extremists to oppose — although they claim it could increase promiscuity in young women and have actively opposed including Gardasil among recommended or required vaccines.

CDC recommendation increases the likelihood that insurers will cover the cost, but until they decide, others are filling the void. The federal program, Vaccines for Children, may cover the expense for eligible girls when a health care company refuses. New Hampshire recently announced it would offer the vaccine to young women 11-18 years of age for free, budgeting $4.8 million for 2007.

"I lost my grandmother to cervical cancer," said Gandy, "and we have two daughters, ages 11 and 13, who might be spared that fate. Making this vaccine accessible and affordable to all families is a challenge our health care system must meet."

This story has been slightly revised from the printed version.

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