Archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cervical cancer vaccine offered at KU

Health center one of first in area to provide Gardasil shots

August 29, 2006


Months after gaining FDA approval, the world's first cervical cancer vaccine is available at Kansas University's Watkins Health Center.

"As soon as it came out, we were anxious to get going," said Carolyn Johnson, head of gynecology at Watkins. "I have people daily asking me about it. I've given out lots of information sheets."

About 10 women in recent weeks have received the three-shot vaccine, Gardasil. The FDA in June licensed Gardasil for use in girls and women ages 9 to 26.

"It's going to be a good thing for the students," KU graduate student Angela Badger said. "It's going to help them think about their future health - when you're young, it's not the first thing on your mind."

Watkins, which participated in an early trial of the vaccine, is giving the shots free to those who participated in the study but didn't receive the vaccine. The vaccine also is available to students and members of the public.

It is not available through the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. Spokeswoman Sheryl Tirol-Goodwin said the department is waiting for guidance from the state.

"It's just really early at this point," she said.

Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the agency hopes to make Gardasil available to patients at some point this fall.

It was unclear Monday how many local physicians are offering the vaccine.

The vaccine prevents infection by four of the dozens of strains of human papillomavirus, or HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection.

Without insurance, the vaccine costs about $130 per injection, with three injections, Johnson said. She said some insurers are covering a portion of the vaccine's cost for policyholders.

But Johnson said the price isn't too high weighed against the costs of dealing with HPV.

"Looking at it purely as an economic issue, chances are it'll pay for itself," she said.

Ideally, the vaccine would be given before a female becomes sexually active, but that doesn't have to be the case. Johnson said she has had inquiries from parents about vaccinating their children.

Johnson said she knows some parents may find it difficult to vaccinate their daughters for a sexually transmitted disease, but there is precedence in Hepatitis B.

"I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to get wide acceptance for the HPV vaccine," she said.

Badger, a peer health educator coordinator at KU, said she hopes the topic is added to sexual health presentations given to college students.

It's too early to know how the vaccine will be discussed in Lawrence public school classrooms.

Lynda Allen, the Lawrence district's director of math and science, said she had yet to talk with teachers about it, but that she saw the subject as one that might come up when discussing news and health issues.

"We wouldn't discourage open discussion of it (in the classroom)," she said.

The topic has yet to arise in Vickie McCauley's health classes at West Junior High.

But "I think it's important that the kids are informed," she said.


badger 11 years, 9 months ago

I hope every woman who can gets this vaccine, and that parents will take their daughters as soon as they are old enough.

Confrontation 11 years, 9 months ago

Badger, don't you know that this vaccine is expected to increase unprotected and premarital sex?! Look at what the flu vaccine has done! Little girls are now wearing skimpy outfits thanks to the chicken pox vaccine.

I wish these shots were provided free to all girls.

badger 11 years, 9 months ago


OHNOES! I forgot that the vaccine would have the side effect of brainwashing all the girls to become Teh Sex Fiends and they'd just be running the streets in hedonistic cancer-free orgiastic glee.

Thank you for reminding me. It must be stopped. We can't have repeats of that chickenpox/flu debacle!


badger 11 years, 9 months ago

ottr -

Birth control is hormones, and the reason you're going to see women with different reactions to Ortho is because women's bodies react differently to hormones.

With this vaccine, it's basically a viral vaccine, much like the Hepatitis B vaccine, so the risks really shouldn't be any different from vaccines in general, meaning there's a small chance of infection (just as there is with any weakened-virus vaccine), a small chance of a reaction to something in the vaccination solution (just as there is with any vaccine at all), and a small risk that the immunity won't hold. It's unlikely that the wide range of reactions women have to hormonal birth control would be the case here.

I understand reluctance to start it as young as 9, because it seems unnecessary at that age, but I'd certainly do it sometime during the early teen years.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.