A Vaccination Price Hike at Harvard

A program that subsidized the cost of Gardasil vaccinations is due to end this month.

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Funding for a Harvard University program that has offered Gardisil vaccinations to female students at a subsidized rate for the past two years will run out at the end of the month, the Harvard Crimson reports.

Fifteen university student organizations worked together to lobby in favor of the subsidy soon after Gardisil came on the market in 2007. With the subsidy, the cost of the three-shot treatment dropped from $154 to $25 per shot. This FDA-approved vaccine protects recipients against four types of human papillomavirus (HPV), including the two types that cause more than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases, according to the CDC.

Student leaders fought to extend funding for the two-year subsidy soon after the program began, but some say the subsidy is less important now because the vaccine's use has become so widespread in the past two years. "Very few students have mentioned the vaccine to me," says Susan Marine, director of Harvard College Women's Center, which lobbied for the subsidy in 2006. "I think a lot of people know about it and have it, or are choosing to get it at their family doctor."

The program apparently increased the number of students who were vaccinated against genital warts and cervical cancer. Before Harvard began subsidizing the cost, the University Health Center had administered the three-shot immunization series to 141 students. In the past two years, UHS has vaccinated 1,126 students. About 85 percent of the students immunized were covered under the University's Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plan.