Wednesday, September 12, 2007

HPV Vaccine - Be One Less

By: Jamin Kim, Pharm.D. Candidate & The UCF Pharmacists
In June 2006, the FDA approved the first HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine, Gardasil, for girls and women ages 9 through 26. It protects women from 4 major types of HPV (types 6,11,16,18), which are responsible for 70% of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts cases.

HPV is the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the United States. At least half of all sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their life. Most people have no symptoms, but it can cause cervical cancer in women and other genital cancers in both men and women. HPV can also cause genital warts.

Currently, girls and women from ages 9 through 26 can receive the vaccine. However, it should not be given to pregnant women or to those with life-threatening allergic reactions to yeast or a previous dose of HPV vaccine. Studies are underway for approval of vaccination in women older than 26 years of age, as well as for vaccination of males recipients.

The vaccination consists of three doses. It is given as a first dose, a second dose two months after the first dose, and a third dose six months after the first dose. Currently, booster doses are not necessary. The most common side effect is soreness at the site of injection.

Women who are vaccinated should continue to have Pap tests because the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV.

The Gardasil vaccine is $135 per dose, for a total of $405 for the complete 3-dose series, at the UCF Health Center. Most insurance plans will cover “recommended” vaccines, but it often takes time for a new vaccine to be categorized as recommended. However, there are federal health programs such as Vaccines for Children (VFC) that cover the cost of the HPV vaccine for females under 19 years of age that meet certain criteria. Click here for more information about VFC.

For more information about HPV and vaccines, please visit the UCF Health Center or Pharmacy. More information may be found by visiting the Centers for Disease Control.

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