In the January 19, 2007 issue of its journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the American Cancer Society has recommended that girls ages 11 and 12 receive Merck‘s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, which reportedly has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18. It is believed that these strains together cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancer cases. In June 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil for sale and marketing to girls and women ages nine to 26, and the U.S. Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices later that month voted unanimously to recommend that girls ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine.
The ACS guidelines state that girls as young as age nine can receive the vaccine and recommend the vaccine for girls and women ages 13 to 18 to complete the three-shot series or to catch up on missed shots. The guidelines also say that there is insufficient data to recommend whether women ages 19 to 26 should be vaccinated. Harmon Eyre, lead author of the guidelines and chief medical officer of ACS, in a statement said, “The vaccine holds remarkable potential, but unless the same population of women who right now do not have access to or do not seek regular Pap tests gets this vaccine, it will have limited impact.” Eyre further added that it is “critical” that women continue to be screened regularly even if they have received the vaccine.
For more information, please see the related report in Medical News Today.