Cost of men’s HPV vaccine too pricey for clinics

A new Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccination for young men has been approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) this summer. Yet ACIP is choosing not to urge males to get the shot.

The committee abstained from formally recommending the shot to the public, said Dr. David Lawrance, medical director at McKinley, in an e-mail. Yet Lawrance says he thinks it’s logical for men to receive the shot.

“Intercourse is probably the only way for a woman to contract a cervical infection, so it makes a lot of sense to also vaccinate guys,” he said.

Since the male vaccination is much more expensive than the females’, Lawrance said it might hurt medical clinics’ abilities to purchase HPV shots for women, as well as for other types of diseases.

“When the ACIP recommends a vaccine, it usually becomes available at no or little charge to people up to and including age 18 through the federal Vaccine for Children (VFC) program. But, there is only so much money to finance VFC,” Lawrance said.

Instead, Lawrance said the committee did not directly state that they recommend males to get the vaccination, only stating a formal approval of the shot.

But this does not mean HPV in men is not something to worry about. According to a report released by ACIP, about 500,000 men contract genital warts each year in the United States, resulting in almost $200 million in medical fees.

The HPV vaccine for men differs in composition from the womens’ vaccination in that it can reduce the chance of contracting genital warts and also can decrease the chances of a woman contracting cervical cancer from a man during intercourse.

Lawrance said he understands the importance of prevention, but also said he trusts the committee’s decision about varying vaccination recommendations between men and women.

“Though I think that if all young adults were vaccinated against high-risk HPV strains, that eventually the rate of cervical cancer in women would plummet, that’s just a personal supposition,” he said. “You have to throw a ton of money at the problem to make that happen. That’s why I trust that the ACIP’s stance is probably the correct one: continue putting full effort into vaccinating females until the price of the vaccine falls.”

As medical fees grow, Lawrance said insurance companies pay for less, which causes the public to empty their wallets more than expected for medical care. For this reason, men, including some on campus, may not want to purchase shots in the first place.

Kevin Dobkin, senior in LAS, said he would only get the vaccination if it was completely affordable for him, unless the shot was a miracle worker.

“It (the vaccination) would have to be 100 percent effective,” said Dobkin.

Similarly, Josh Clemens, sophomore in LAS, said he would get the shot “depending on the cost.” But if getting the shot would prove to be effective in reducing the spread of HPV, he said he would consider taking it.

“More than likely, I would get it if it would help out,” he said.

For both men and women interested, Lawrance said the vaccination is available at McKinley, but does not fall under the University’s student health insurance plan.