Post-Standard (Syracuse) (09.04.07) - Monday, September 10,
Back-to-school immunizations may include the human
papillomavirus vaccine, should Central New York parents choose
to have their young daughters inoculated. Approved for girls
and women ages 9-26, the vaccine protects against four types
of HPV, two of which cause 70 percent of cervical cancer
Since October, the Upstate Medical University Hospital's
Pediatric and Adolescent Center has administered 700 doses of
the HPV vaccine Gardasil, said Darryl Geddes, hospital
spokesperson. Pediatricians, county health departments, and
community health care centers are also offering the vaccine.
It will take at least a year before an accurate estimate of
national uptake of the vaccine can be determined, said Curtis
Allen, a CDC spokesperson. Gardasil's manufacturer, Merck &
Co., has distributed 7.5 million doses nationwide, he said.
"We know anecdotally that it's a very popular vaccine."
In an informal survey of about a dozen health care
professionals in Onondaga, Madison, Oswego, Oneida, Cortland
and Cayuga counties, interest in HPV vaccine was reportedly
strong, and more than 1,000 girls had received it since late
Some find the vaccine controversial, believing it promotes
promiscuity; its long-term safety and efficacy are not known;
or that those vaccinated may feel no need to practice safe sex
or have regular Pap screenings.
"As much as every parent believes that their child will never
have sex until they get married, you can never guarantee
that," said Dr. Denise Wolken of Manlius' Eastside Pediatric
Group, where 174 patients have received the vaccine. "I don't
go into it asking whether your child is sexually active," said
Dr. Luis Castro of Syracuse's Westside Family Center. Instead,
he emphasizes that the vaccine can prevent cervical cancer.