The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have added the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, to the government-sponsored Vaccines for Children program. The Vaccines for Children program provides subsidized vaccines for children ages nine to 18 who are on Medicaid, are uninsured or underinsured, or are Native American or Alaska Native, according to Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report. Gardasil’s inclusion in the program will increase equitable access to the vaccine, which is becoming increasingly covered by private insurance companies.
The HPV vaccine is aimed toward women ages nine to 26 to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18. Gardasil has been found to be most effective when given to young women before they become sexually active, as the vaccine only prevents contraction of the disease, and does not treat infected women. Gardasil is the first immunization recommended for children that prevents a sexually transmitted infection.
According to the FDA, over half of sexually active women will contract HPV in their lifetime. The FDA also reports that HPV is responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts cases. The HPV vaccine is already available in Australia and Mexico and is set to be released in several European countries by the end of this year.