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Government Still Leaves Women with Bulk of Responsibility for Vaccination: Editorial

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Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has finally stopped their two years of stalling since approving the HPV vaccine Gardasil for boys and young men in their vote yesterday which now makes the vaccine recommended for both sexes. It was previously only approved for males but not recommended as it has been for females.

"HPV vaccination of males offers the opportunity to decrease the burden of disease in both males and females," Dr. Schuchat said. Dr. Anne Schuchat is the Director of the CDC’s Immunization and Respiratory Disease. She went on to state that it is important that immunization take place before exposure to the virus.

What is interesting about Dr. Schuchat’s comments is that the information she refers to in making this decision is relatively no different than information which has been available for two years now but for which the ACIP has dragged their feet, leaving the burden on women when it comes to vaccination.

Manufacturer’s recommendations are that both males and females be vaccinated at approximately 12 years of age and yet many groups are outraged that this vaccine is being utilized on “our young girls”.

Parents typically do not wage major campaigns against childhood vaccines such as polio or measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) like they do against the HPV vaccine and those vaccines are being given to infants who are far more vulnerable to such negative effects than the 11- or 12-year-old girls (and now boys) to whom the HPV vaccine is recommended.

This new recommendation included males up to the age of 21. However, Dr. James C. Turner, MD, executive director of the American College Health Association, stated during the ACIP meeting that “the recommendation to vaccinate boys only through age 21 years may be too limited.” He estimated that about 70 percent of HPV vaccines given to men and women during the college years are given to students older than 21 years.

Previous studies on college students have shown that acquisition of HPV happens more than half the time during the four years that a student spends in college.

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