A new vaccine that protects women against human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can lead to cancer in women, is now available to students at the Wardenburg Health Center. However, the vaccine is being offered at a very high price, leaving many students with no choice but to walk away.
According to Molly Fortuna, the Women’s Clinic Manager at Wardenburg, Gardasil – the HPV vaccine – costs a patient $165 per injection, and women need three injections over a six-month period. This brings the grand total to $495.
This is more than most students can pay and is the reason that many have not gotten treatment.
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections on campus, and about six women receive the vaccine from Wardenburg each day.
There are about 2,000 women included in the student health program. This means that all of them will need treatment for HPV by the end of the year.
As a result of the high demand for the vaccine, many would like to have Gardasil added to the student insurance policy.
“I feel the student insurance should cover the vaccine. HPV on the cervix causes abnormal cells that have the potential to become cervical cancer. The women on this campus should be protected,” said Barbara Oonk, a gynecologist at Wardenburg.
“I think that the college population is old for the vaccine, but while we are playing catch-up, we need to be providing the vaccine to every one that needs it,” said Ann Mattson, a gynecologist at Wardenburg.
If Gardasil is added to student insurance, it will cost the university about $2 million.
As a result, the premium paid by all patients using the program will go up considerably.
According to Fortuna, the premium that students paid last year was $875.
“There is a very delicate balance between what students can afford for coverage and what can be provided at that price,” said Fortuna, “I am in support of coverage, but unfortunately it isn’t that simple.”
There is not really a way around this completely, but Fortuna hopes the university can come up with a way to help students.
“Medicine is a business, whether we want to believe it or not,” she said. “I understand that for an institution like (Wardenburg) to run, they need to cut cost. However, there must be some sort of middle ground.
“If they can’t afford to cover all of the cost for the vaccine, a portion would help students considerably.
A committee – which includes students, Wardenburg staff and CU Administrators – will begin to asses the petition and insurance company offers in January. It is difficult to tell when a final decision will be made.
For more information on HPV and the Gardasil vaccine, visit the Wardenburg Health Center.