CDC Adds Gardasil to Children’s Immunization Program

Executive Summary

This update documents when Gardasil (the cervical cancer HPV vaccine was added to the federal Vaccines for Children's Program and why advocates should monitor coverage of this vaccine for low-income children.

By Jamie D. Brooks
On November 1st, the U.S. government added the cervical cancer HPV vaccine, Gardisil, to the federal Vaccines for Children program (VFC). VFC provides free vaccines to children and youth covered by Medicaid, Alaska-Native and American Indian children, and some uninsured and underinsured children up to age 18.1
This addition of Gardisil to the list of vaccines to be covered by VFC is critical to ensuring access to this vaccine for low-income communities and communities of color which have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. 
Advocates should monitor the coverage of this vaccine. As NHeLP advised this summer, advocates should also determine whether their State Children?s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provides health insurance to children of ?near-poor? families who are ineligible for Medicaid will cover Gardisil. 
Despite government efforts in the United States to eliminate the barriers low-income children and youth face in receiving immunizations and vaccines through the Medicaid and SCHIP programs, nine million still go without any form of health insurance. Although the VFC does serve some uninsured children, it is these children who may be particularly at risk. The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation reports that among those who are uninsured, children of color are disproportionately represented, as 20 percent of Hispanic children are uninsured, compared to nine percent of African-American children and six percent of non-Hispanic white children. Thus, cervical cancer disparities among women of 
color will persist unless uninsured girls have access to the vaccine and uninsured women (among whom women of color also are overrepresented) have access to appropriate preventive services. 

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1 See 42 U.S.C. 1396d(r)(1)(B)(iii) (stating that EPSDT shall at a minimum provide appropriate immunizations?.for pediatric vaccines; 1396s(c)(2)(B)(i) stating that the provider will comply with the schedule, regarding the appropriate periodicity, dosage, and contraindications applicable to pediatric vaccines, that is established and periodically reviewed). 

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