Health Dept. recommends against requiring HPV vaccineby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Health is recommending that a vaccine for the human papilloma virus not be made mandatory for girls in the Minnesota school system.
The virus, commonly known as HPV, is known to cause cervical cancer.
Currently, there is one vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for girls and women that was shown in clinical trials to be almost 100 percent effective in preventing the types of HPV that most commonly cause cervical cancer.
Department of Health spokesman Doug Schultz said the department was concerned about the safety, availability and cost of making the vaccine mandatory.
"It's primarily a question of more time is needed for providers to become accustomed to ordering, stocking and offering the vaccine, more time is needed for the public to become aware of the vaccine and its limitations as well as its benefits," said Schultz.
The department's report follows six months of review by department staff, an advisory panel and other professionals.
Dr. Edward Ehlinger, who serves on a state advisory committee for immunization practices, said initial research suggests the vaccine is safe and protects for at least five years, but its long-term benefits need more study.
"We think it's going to turn out to be fine, but we don't want to mandate something until more of those studies have been done," said Ehlinger, who is also director of student health services at the University of Minnesota.
Kristen Ehresmann, who directs the state's immunization programs, said the Health Department would revisit the question of a mandate in three years.
The pause gives families an opportunity to decide on their own, which will reduce the administrative burden on schools to check for compliance.
"Mandating this would require the schools to monitor it," Ehlinger said. "They don't have the resources. They're already strapped."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)