The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that Merck’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, may be given to boys and young men to prevent genital warts. During its October meeting in Atlanta, however, ACIP stopped short of calling for routine use of the vaccine in males, according to IDSA’s ACIP liaison, Samuel Katz, MD, FIDSA. The permissive decision allows physicians and their male patients the opportunity to choose whether to use the vaccine.
Already licensed for use in girls and young women for the prevention of cervical cancer, Gardasil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Oct. 16 for preventing genital warts in males ages 9 through 26 years old. A quadrivalent vaccine, it protects against two carcinogenic strains of the virus and two linked to genital warts. On the same day, FDA also approved a second HPV vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix, for girls and young women ages 10 to 25 that protects against two strains linked to cervical cancer.
ACIP voted to include Gardasil in the federal government’s Vaccines for Children program so that the vaccine’s use would be covered for males under the age of 18 who are eligible for the program. The panel stopped shot of encouraging the vaccine’s use in men who have sex with men, but if ongoing studies show its effectiveness in preventing cancers, such as penile and oropharyngeal, the panel might reconsider, Dr. Katz said.
During a discussion of novel H1N1 influenza, priority risk groups for vaccination were re-emphasized, including pregnant women, health care workers, children aged 6 months to 5 years old, and other children with underlying health conditions, according to Dr. Katz. In July, ACIP made recommendations for target groups for H1N1 vaccination (see IDSA News article). Hospitalization rates have been highest among children up to 4 years old, panelists were told at the latest meeting. Pregnant women are especially fragile clinically, in some cases deteriorating rapidly and requiring prolonged intensive care.
ACIP recommendations become official once approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in MMWR. For more information, see CDC’s website. The next ACIP meeting is Feb. 24-25, 2010.
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