To Vaccinate Or Not?

Questions still loom about HPV vaccine

A woman goes to her appointment at the gynecologist for her annual check-up, only to find out she has cervical cancer. She is informed that the cancer is a result of a strain of human papillomavirus, or HPV, which she contracted through sexual intercourse at one point in her life. This is the same story for thousands of women each year, who have no idea they are carrying around a virus which may cause cancer or genital warts.

Although it may be too late for this woman, Gardasil, a preventative vaccine for HPV, was introduced to the public by Merck & Co. after being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This vaccine excited many jurisdictions in the United States, including the District of Columbia, which recently passed a law mandating all sixth grade girls to get the HPV vaccine before fall of 2009.

“Center for Disease Control recommends the HPV vaccine for all 11 and 12 year old girls. The recommendation allows for vaccinations to begin at age nine,” says Arleen Porcell-Pharr, a Public Affairs Specialist, at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vaccination also is recommended for female ages 13 through 26 years who have not been vaccinated or who have not completed the full series of shots.”

Adrean Taylor, a 19-year-old, of Detroit received two of the Gardasil doses before entering college because her family and friends made it clear that the vaccine was very important, and could possibly save her life. However, she believes everyone may not think that way.

“I think people should take advantage of the medical advances we have, but I also think this mandate is inappropriate, it’s not contagious, like the measles or chicken pox, so it should not be mandatory,” says Taylor.

There is not a risk sufficient enough to require vaccination at schools. There are other options available to women to reduce the risk of cervical cancer, such as practicing safe sex or abstinence, according to an article from the Family Research Council.

There are many parents who agree with the Family Research Council and have voiced their opposition of the HPV vaccine. Being that human papillomavirus can only be transmitted through sexual intercourse, some view it as a decision that needs to be made within the family, not by the government.

Donna Matthews, a mother of two, believes the government needs to think this law through a bit more before requiring all female students to go through with it.

“This should be like a flu-shot because some people may get human papillomavirus, while others may not, this should be encouraged to the kids and parents, not enforced,” says Matthews

Matthews also asks, “If government is not even stepping up to cover the costs of the vaccine, how do they expect everyone to be able to afford it for their children?”

Although there is a mandate in place for sixth grade girls, the cost of Gardasil still remains a problem for some parents. There are three doses each person must receive for the vaccine, each dose costing $125. While many privatized insurance companies may cover the costs, there are still people who do not have insurance, making them pay out of pocket, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

With females infected with human papillomavirus, Gardasil has become necessity. The decision to receive the vaccine, however, depends on the person whom one may ask.