Merck's Gardasil is the first and only vaccine against cervical cancer. state to require that all 11- and 12-year-old girls be vaccinated against HPV. Rick Perry said parents could opt out of mandatory vaccinations for their children if they objected for reasons including religious beliefs. The vaccine, given in a series of three injections at a price of 0, has been endorsed by medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics.Approved in 2006 for females aged 9 to 26, it works against strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. In December, Merck said it was looking into providing Gardasil at much lower prices in developing countries and to make it available within months.HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that, if it doesn’t go away on its own, can lead to cancer.Practically all cervical cancer is caused by HPV, mainly from a strain covered by the vaccine.Like most parents, Gallant also doesn’t object to the school requirement for the other two vaccines recommended for adolescents: meningitis and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis. Still, in Rhode Island, as elsewhere, the number of teenagers who get the HPV vaccine lags far behind the other two vaccines recommended for that age group.The HPV vaccine has always stood apart.“From early on, this vaccine was sort of carved out from other vaccines and treated a little differently because it’s for a sexually transmitted infection,” said Gregory D.
According to CDC data, less than half of girls and even fewer boys had completed the three dose series of shots in 2013.The newest version of Gardasil, which got FDA approval in December 2014, protects against nine strains of HPV and 90% of all cancers associated with the virus.The first version only protected against four strains, including the two responsible for 70% of cervical cancer.But Rhode Island health officials have held firm, believing they can increase the HPV vaccination rate in a state that already boasts the highest rate in the nation.“Our goal is that, over time, parents will become comfortable and familiar with the benefits of this vaccine,” said Dr.Nicole Alexander-Scott, Rhode Island’s health director. She noted that the hepatitis B vaccine, given to babies, also protects against a sexually transmitted disease.