In a recent CDC Update from August 25, 2011, the Centers for Disease Control indicate that compared to other recommended vaccinations, the HVP vaccine has trailed off in recent years potentially leaving an entire generation of young people susceptible to the HPV (human papillomavirus).
HPV is a series of virus, over 120 different strains to date, which are responsible for everything from warts on the hands to plantar warts on the feet. However, certain high risk strains of HPV are responsible for anogenital as well and oral cancers.
The HPV vaccine Gardasil, approved by the FDA in 2006, protects against the two most aggressive high risk strains of the virus HPV16 and HPV18 which are responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers. They are also responsible however for 90 percent of anal cancers as well as vaginal and vulvar cancers.
Recent research has shown a surge in the number of cases or cancer of the oropharynx including the tonsillar region and base of the tongue involving HPV16. The majority of these cancers are affecting younger men and statistics indicate that the number of diagnosed oral cancers will exceed those diagnosed with cervical cancer by more than double.
According to Anne Schuchat, MD Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, there is concern regarding those who are not receiving or not completing the three shot vaccine series to obtain full protection.
Schuchat states: “However, the HPV results are very concerning. Our progress is stagnating, and if we don’t make major changes, far too many girls in this generation will remain vulnerable to cervical cancer later in life. Now that we have the tools to prevent most cervical cancers, it is critical that we use them.”
While the FDA has recommended the HPV vaccine for girls and is approved for administration in boys the FDA has stopped just short of making it a recommended vaccine for boys. This may also affect the tragically low numbers when it comes to those completing the series.
The Update goes on to state that families who may need financial assistance for the vaccine should ask their physicians about the VFC or Vaccines for Children Program, a government sponsored program providing assistance with vaccines to low income families. The problem with this is the expectancy in general. How can a family be expected to ask their physician about a program which they may not even know exists? Physicians need to provide this information to patient’s as well as information regarding the programs provided by both Merck, manufacturers of Gardasil and GSK, manufacturers of Cervarix who also provide financial assistance to qualified individuals.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Press Release. Web August 26, 2011.
"Coverage for GARDASIL® [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant]." GARDASIL® [Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant]. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2011. http://www.gardasil.com/what-is-gardasil/hpv-and-gardasil/coverage-for-gardasil/index.html
"HPV infection: A cause of cancer in men? - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2011
"GlaxoSmithKline: VAP Home Page." GlaxoSmithKline: VAP Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2011.
Reviewed August 31, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith