The Michigan Senate on Wednesday voted 36-1 to approve two bills (SB 1416, SB 1417) that would require girls in the state entering the sixth grade in the 2007-2008 school year and beyond to have received Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil, the AP/Detroit Free Press reports (AP/Detroit Free Press, 9/20).
FDA in July approved Gardasil for sale and marketing to girls and women ages nine to 26. According to Merck, the vaccine -- which is given in three injections over six months and costs $360 -- in clinical trials has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing HPV infection with strains 16 and 18, which together cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases, in women who do not already have the virus, and about 99% effective in preventing HPV strains 6 and 11, which together with strains 16 and 18 cause about 90% of genital wart cases. Gardasil also protects against vaginal and vulvar cancers, two other gynecological cancers that are linked to HPV, according to a study presented in June at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Atlanta. CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in July recommend that all girls ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine and that Gardasil be covered by the Vaccines for Children Program, which provides no-cost immunizations to children covered by Medicaid, Alaska-Native and American Indian children, and some uninsured and underinsured children. Health insurers Aetna, Cigna and WellPoint have said they will offer coverage for Gardasil.
Bill Details, Debate
The Michigan bills allow exceptions for the vaccination requirement for girls whose parents have medical, religious or philosophical issues with having their daughters receive Gardasil. State Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom (R) said that more than 75% of girls who would need to receive the vaccine would be covered by private health insurance or government programs and that the state would have to allocate funding to cover Gardasil through the Michigan Department of Community Health (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 9/14). According to Hammerstron, most employer health plans in the state will cover the vaccine, and girls who are uninsured could be eligible for coverage through the federal Vaccines for Children program. The state Legislature will be in recess until after the November election, so it is not certain when the state Assembly will consider the two bills, the AP/Free Press reports (AP/Detroit Free Press, 9/20).
This article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.