Massachusetts: Critics Chide State Over Cervical Cancer Vaccine Delays
December 28, 2006
Planned Parenthood says Massachusetts has been slow to cover the cost of Gardasil, which protects against several strands of human papillomavirus (HPV) responsible for 70 percent of US cervical cancer cases. "Massachusetts should be a leader on this and should cover it for all women who want and need to get vaccinated," said Dr. Karen Lifford, medical director at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
MassHealth, the state's health insurance for the poor, covers the cost of the vaccine in doctors' offices and hospitals, but it will be another month or more before Gardasil is covered at family planning clinics, according to Paul Jeffrey, MassHealth pharmacy director. He said the rollout is complex but MassHealth wants to pay for Gardasil, adding that it has paid 63 Gardasil claims since August.
Approved by the FDA in August, Gardasil is recommended for females ages 9 to 26. This year, according to the American Cancer Society, about 9,710 women will get cervical cancer and some 3,700 will die from it.
Jennifer Hyde of Westwood-Mansfield Pediatrics said there has been interest in Gardasil. "We were worried parents wouldn't want to talk to their 11-year-olds about having sex, but I think that hasn't really been a problem," she said. "We explain you have to have the vaccine before you've been exposed to the virus. We want to get the girls way before they've had exposure."
According to Gardasil's manufacturer, Merck, more than 39 states offer Gardasil free to females age 18 and younger.
12.26.2006; Jessica Fargen
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.