Whether or not to mandate the human papilloma virus vaccine has become a highly controversial topic over the past few weeks. Parents, politicians and doctors all over the country have been questioning if this vaccine would be a good thing or a bad thing. Will it promote sexual promiscuity in teens or will it be a huge development toward curing one kind of cancer? Texas Gov.
Whether or not to mandate the human papilloma virus vaccine has become a highly controversial topic over the past few weeks. Parents, politicians and doctors all over the country have been questioning if this vaccine would be a good thing or a bad thing. Will it promote sexual promiscuity in teens or will it be a huge development toward curing one kind of cancer?
Texas Gov. Rick Perry was the first to initiate the proposal for an HPV mandate and has experienced a swift backlash. He suggested that all young girls entering the sixth grade in 2008 should be required to receive this vaccine. Not only will the vaccine help prevent HPV, but it will also protect against 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. Instead of being angry at this new phenomenon, society should be elated. Honestly, this is one of the biggest breakthroughs in medicine.
HPV is typically viewed as something only contracted through intercourse, which is not completely true. Some strains of HPV can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and can also be passed down from a mother at birth. Because HPV is viewed as a sexually transmitted disease, it’s understandable that parents are fearful that the HPV vaccine will promote sexual promiscuity. However, the children who’ll be vaccinated are only 11 years old. Do you really think they’re thinking about sex at that age? Treat it like a shot for measles or chickenpox-they don’t need to know what the vaccine is for.
In addition, HPV is also responsible for a respiratory tract disease that causes tumor-like lesions that grow on the lungs and trachea. The only way to remove these is through painful surgery. Because of this, a mandate for young boys to receive the vaccine is in the works as well. It sounds like a flu shot to me–a preventative measure that helps thwart illness.
There are more than 100 types of HPV, and unfortunately, most people who have it don’t even know. In fact, according to The Washington Post, about 50 percent of U.S. adults have the virus. Even worse, HPV has now been recognized as the largest cause of cervical cancer in women. Doesn’t it make sense to mandate this vaccine?
About 10,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and almost all cases start with the human papilloma virus. Gov. Perry says that “Providing the HPV vaccine doesn’t promote sexual promiscuity any more than providing the hepatitis B vaccine promotes drug use.”
Many parents are concerned with the price of the vaccine: $360 for the three-shot series. Why should we have to pay for something that is mandatory? Well, Gov. Perry thought of that as well. Most insurance companies will front the cost of the vaccine since it is recommended by the Center for Disease Control. He has also promised to make the vaccine free to girls ages 9 to 18 who are uninsured, or whose insurance doesn’t cover the vaccines. In many cases, in other words, the vaccine is free. And for those parents who are absolutely opposed to the vaccine, there is a way to opt out by signing a form at school.
So why isn’t the public more excited? We have been given the chance to eradicate this type of cancer for the first time. ABCnews.com states that over 5,000 women die yearly from cervical cancer, and at any given time, 20 million people are carrying an active HPV infection. This vaccine doesn’t sound like an infringement of rights, it sounds like a genius medical advancement.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Most of society is ignorant to the magnitude of this disease, and education on top of a mandate would be ideal. Unfortunately, about 5.5 million cases of HPV occur each year, according to Planned Parenthood. That is equivalent to approximately one-third of all STD infections. People are getting distracted by the implications of this vaccine–they are forgetting the importance of it and its ability to save lives.