After holding a conference of experts and considering the evidence for several
weeks, Health Ministry director- general Prof. Ronni Gamzu decided on Wednesday
to offer – already during this school year – free human papilloma virus vaccines
to eighth-grade girls.
The vaccine fights HPV and is believed to prevent
cervical cancer. Any woman or girl who already was infected with HPV will not be
protected by the vaccine.
However, the vaccine would prevent some 5,000
nonfatal cases each year of genital warts and precancerous growths in the
Such problems can reduce fertility, the ministry said, “thus a
positive effect from the vaccine could be evidence in a short time.”
ministry said that parents will be presented with explanations of the
As HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, it may be that haredi
families and many national-religious ones will turn down the injection because
they would have to explain to their daughters the reason for it.
argue that it could also give some girls of any background confidence that they
can have sex without worrying about HPV, even though the shot does not prevent
infection with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
ministry said that some 200 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in Israeli
women every year, and about half die.
The shot, which is taken in three
doses, is manufactured by two companies and has two commercial names. Cervarix
is manufactured by Glaxo-SmithKline to prevent infection from the type 16 and
type 18 of HPV that are said to cause about 70 percent of all cervical cancer
cases. The Merck pharmaceutical company’s Gardasil brand also targets type 6 and
type 11, which cause about 90% of genital warts cases.
Injected into the
muscle of the upper arm in a series of three shots over a period of six months,
neither contain live virus, so the vaccines cannot infect the
More than 175 million doses of the two vaccines have been
administered around the world (most to teenage girls but in some countries even
to some boys, so they do not infect their sexual partners) in 50 countries, the
Gamzu noted that after hearing from some opposition to the
vaccine, including reports of various side effects abroad, he decided to rethink
the ministry’s original plans to give the vaccine, but now he has finally
decided to go ahead.
The ministry’s advisory committee on infectious
diseases and vaccines, the National Council for Gynecology, the National Council
for Women’s Health, the Israel Ob/Gyn Society and other groups issued formal