Panel Backs HPV Vaccine for Young Girls

June 30, 2006

I have been M.I.A. for a while and it’s because I am currently recovering from yet another painful bout of cystic ovary disease. I have had ongoing “woman problems” since before I can remember. Even before I was sexually active!

An influential government advisory panel Thursday recommended that 11- and 12-year-old girls be routinely vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

The recommendation involves Gardasil, which is made by Merck & Co. and is the first vaccine specifically designed to prevent cancer. Approved earlier this month by the        Food and Drug Administration for females ages 9 to 26, it protects against strains of the human papilloma virus, or HPV, which causes cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers and genital warts.

Health officials estimate that more than 50 percent of sexually active women and men will be infected with one or more types of HPV in their lifetimes. Vaccine proponents say it could dramatically reduce the nearly 4,000 cervical cancer deaths in the United States each year.

The vaccine is considered most effective when given to girls before they become sexually active. About 7 percent of children have had sexual intercourse before age 13, and about a quarter of boys and girls have had sex by age 15, according to government surveys.

The vaccine comes as a $360 series of three shots, and in tests has been highly effective against HPV. The vaccine is formulated to address the subtypes of HPV responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases and 90 percent of genital warts.

I say, it’s about time! Because of my history, I will make sure my daughter gets these vaccinations. I would HATE for her to go through what I’ve gone through.UPDATE:According to the article I read about this story, the panel is also working on getting a vaccination for boys.

Several speakers also called for the immunization of boys, as soon as studies are completed on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness for males. HPV has been linked to penile, anal, and head and neck cancers and a tumor-like condition of the respiratory tract. Merck officials said clinical effectiveness studies in males should be completed by 2008.

Looks like my son is also going to be getting the shot…