New Hampshire to offer Gardasil vaccinations free to all girls

New Hampshire health officials plan to offer Merck’s Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine free to all girls to help protect them against cervical cancer. “New Hampshire will be the first state in the country to offer the vaccine in its universal children’s (vaccine) program,” New Hampshire Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen told the Associated Press. The New Hampshire Vaccines for Children program is funded by the federal government and private insurers and offers “no-cost” immunizations to children through age 18. The program also pays to vaccinate children against other diseases, such as hepatits A and B, polio and measles. $4.8 million has been budgeted for the vaccine next year, reports said. New Hampshire officials said doctors can begin ordering the vaccine Friday, for shipment in January. State officials hope 17,000 young women -- 25% of those eligible --will come forward for the vaccinations during 2007. Gardasil was approved by the FDA in June for females 9 to 26 years old. The vaccine helps protect against four types of HPV responsible for most strains of the disease. A Centers for Disease Control panel recommended Gardasil for use in girls 11 and 12, and down to 9 per a physician’s discretion, and for all those not vaccinated from 13 to 26.

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