April 24th, 2009
The United States has seen many health departments in various states making compulsory legislation on hpv vaccine. Most states have made vaccination for teenage girls free. The states, in most cases have also tried to disseminate information regarding the condition to one and all, so that the vaccine may be availed by all girls and women who are susceptible to the virus. Currently there is just one vaccine which has been approved by the Federal Drug Authority (FDA) for use to prevent hpv in man. This is Gradasil manufactured by the pharmaceutical major, Merck. The vaccine protects its users against four of the commonest strains of the virus. Other pharmaceutical companies are coming out with their own versions of the vaccine, of which Cervarix manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline is awaiting approval by the FDA.
The fundamental question one would ask is what sparked off sudden legislation on hpv vaccine? This was initiated by a recommendation from the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in the United States. In June 2006, the authority recommended routine vaccination against hpv for girls between 11 and 12 years of age. These girls are in school and were supposed to be targeted before they became sexually active. Girls in this age group are in school and the onus for implementing school vaccinations rests on state legislatures and their respective health departments.
The debate on legislation on hpv vaccine now comes under the scanner when it has to be implemented in schools. The wide availability of the vaccine is a boon but there is still an opposition to the introduction of the vaccine in school mandates. This is mainly because of issues like the vaccine’s cost, its safety in children and the parents’ right to refuse vaccination for their child. Concerns about financing this costly vaccine are also being cited as a point against introducing it in schools. There are also questions raised about the need for insurance like Medicaid to cover such a vaccine.
Amid all the objections and concerns raised about the introduction and use of vaccine amongst children, the United States has allowed the vaccine to be easily accessible to one and all. The Center for Disease Control has announced that the vaccine will be available in all states through the federally funded program Vaccines for Children. The scope for coverage under this program is children between nine and eighteen years of age who are insured with Medicaid, Native-American, Alaskan-American and some under- and un-insured children.
By: Karl Dorads
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