Women In Government Issues State Policy Recommendations for Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Recommendations Support Middle School Entry Requirement

Sep 12, 2006, 01:00 ET from Women In Government

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Following the recent Food and Drug
 Administration (FDA) approval of a vaccine targeting cervical cancer, Women
 In Government, a national, bi-partisan, non-profit organization
 representing women state legislators, today recommended that all girls
 entering middle school be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus
 (HPV), the cause of cervical cancer. The recommendation is part of the
 group's new policy recommendations for the HPV vaccine's implementation in
 the states. The group also supports parental exemptions to the HPV vaccine,
 based on existing state immunization exemptions.
     "The availability of an HPV vaccine brings us one step closer to making
 cervical cancer the first cancer we can eliminate," said Susan Crosby,
 president of Women In Government. "However, to truly achieve this goal, we
 must make FDA-approved HPV vaccines available to all age-appropriate girls
 and women. That is what our recommendations, including the middle school
 entry requirement, are designed to do." Ms. Crosby also noted that HPV
 vaccines must be part of a comprehensive approach to prevention that
 includes screening programs using advanced and appropriate technologies,
 such as HPV testing.
     In June, the FDA approved an HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil, for girls
 and women aged 9 through 26. A federal advisory panel subsequently voted to
 recommend its routine use in girls aged 11 and 12 and, as appropriate, for
 the other approved age groups. The vaccine has been shown in clinical
 trials to be 100 percent effective at preventing disease from the two types
 of HPV that are responsible for approximately 70 percent of all cervical
 cancers. Clinical data also showed this HPV vaccine to be effective in
 targeting the two HPV types that cause 90 percent of genital warts. Another
 HPV vaccine, known as Cervarix, is in development and expected to be
 submitted to the FDA later this year.
     The new HPV vaccine policy recommendations are part of Women In
 Government's "Challenge to Eliminate Cervical Cancer Campaign," which
 mobilizes state legislators to help eradicate cervical cancer through
 education and policy initiatives. Since 2004, 45 states have introduced
 legislation or resolutions tackling this issue.
     Also today, Michigan became the first state to consider legislation
 requiring HPV vaccination for school entrance. State Senator Beverly
 Hammerstrom (R-Temperance), Michigan's Majority Floor Leader and Chair of
 the Senate Health Policy Committee, today introduced legislation requiring
 inclusion of a cervical cancer vaccine on the immunization schedule for
 Michigan's schools and academies. The vaccine would be required for girls
 entering the sixth grade, and would allow exemptions for medical, religious
 or philosophical reasons.
     "The only way to ensure that as many girls as possible receive the HPV
 vaccine is to require it before they enter middle school," said Sen.
 Hammerstrom, who is also the immediate past chair of Women In Government.
 "Vaccines can save lives and policymakers have a responsibility to ensure
 access for constituents to these preventive technologies. I have
 significant support from my colleagues in the legislature on this issue and
 look forward to working with them to pass this bill."
     Women In Government's HPV vaccine policy recommendations were developed
 by its bi-partisan HPV & Cervical Cancer Task Force and approved by its
 Board of Directors. The other recommendations are:
     -- Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program -- States should direct dedicated
        funding streams to support VFC program infrastructure (e.g.
        administration, providers' time, education, etc.), and state
        departments of health should develop and implement plans to ensure all
        girls and women aged 9 through 18 have access to and receive
        FDA-approved cervical cancer/HPV vaccines, with an emphasis on the
        routine vaccination of 11- and 12-year-old girls.
     -- Health Coverage -- States should strongly encourage health plans to
        cover FDA-approved cervical cancer/HPV vaccines, Pap tests and HPV
     -- Access for Uninsured/Underinsured Not Covered by VFC -- States should
        require Medicaid to cover FDA-approved cervical cancer/HPV vaccines for
        eligible 19 to 26 year old women.  States should ensure that public
        health programs are adequately funded (e.g. state general funds, 317
        funds, Title X, etc.) and utilized to ensure that all other uninsured
        or underinsured females aged 9 to 26 have access to cervical cancer/HPV
     -- Education and Awareness -- Existing statewide entities focused on
        cancer prevention and/or health (e.g. statewide cervical cancer task
        forces, state health departments, women's caucuses, etc.) should take
        the lead on developing and executing programs to educate and involve
        stakeholders (e.g. policymakers, providers, parents, young women,
        school administrators, etc.) about cervical cancer, HPV, and the role
        of available preventive technologies.
     -- Role of Statewide Accountable Entities -- States should ensure that
        statewide cervical cancer task forces or other accountable entities are
        informed about and address new information and data about cervical
        cancer/HPV vaccines.  States should consider that legislative action
        may be required to extend the parameters of task force timelines,
        membership, etc.
     Sen. Hammerstrom is joined by other policymakers throughout the country
 who are preparing to introduce similar initiatives. "With the HPV vaccine,
 we have a huge opportunity to eliminate cervical cancer for New York women,
 particularly underserved women, who are at higher risk for the disease,"
 said New York State Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn). "I
 look forward to working with the Health Department and my colleagues in the
 Assembly to make sure we get this vaccine to all age-appropriate girls and
 young women in the state."
     About Cervical Cancer
     Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second leading cancer-killer of
 women, with almost a quarter-million deaths each year. In the United
 States, the American Cancer Society estimates 9,710 women will be diagnosed
 with and more than 3,700 women will die of cervical cancer in 2006.
 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
 approximately 20 million people are currently infected with HPV, with 6.2
 million new infections occurring annually and approximately 80 percent of
 sexually active women will be infected with HPV by age 50. For 90 percent
 of infected women, the virus is naturally cleared by the body and becomes
 undetectable within two years. However, persistent infection with
 "high-risk" types of HPV can cause cell changes that, untreated, can lead
 to cervical cancer.
     About Women In Government
     Women In Government is a national, 501(c)(3), non-profit, bi-partisan
 organization of women state legislators providing leadership opportunities,
 networking, expert forums and educational resources to address and resolve
 complex public policy issues. For more information, visit
     CONTACT: Tracy Morris

SOURCE Women In Government