Point/Counterpoint: The HPV vaccine

Evening Sun reporters love to argue. The sides in this debate were chosen arbitrarily and do not necessarily reflect the author’s true viewpoints. This week, Jill Osterhout and Jessica Lewis tackle the HPV vaccination issue: In June 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer and other diseases in females caused by certain types of genital human papillomavirus (HPV). The vaccine, Gardasil, protects against four HPV types. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently licensed this vaccine for use in girls and women, ages 9-26 years. The vaccine is given through a series of three shots over a six-month period.

The overall ethics and morals behind the shot itself have caused debates nationwide on whether the shot is a positive medical benefit or simply enables young people to be irresponsible about their sexuality. This vaccine is designed to safeguard young girls both sexually active and not sexually active from the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world today. The Center for Disease Control states at least 50 percent of sexually active people will get some form of HPV sometime in their lives. Every year approximately 6.2 million people get HPV. Also, many forms of the disease lead to a great number of women who could eventually end up with cancer. Why not try to prevent this? – JSO

The issue here is not with people who choose to get or not get the vaccine. The issue is whether or not a vaccine that prevents an STD should be routinely given to girls as young as nine years of age. Immunizing young children against a sexually transmitted disease sends the wrong type of message. Instead of teaching children to be responsible and abstain from sexual activity until they are mature enough to deal with all of the consequences, this vaccine could actually encourage sexual activity at a younger age. Parents have an issue with explaining to their children why this type of a vaccine is necessary. – JLL

I think the first step as a parent is to be upfront with your children, and the first lesson should be to take responsibility. Sadly, in the world we live in today, many girls even as young as nine are ending up pregnant or living with an STD. Keeping your children informed is the first step, and the second step as a parent is to realize that times have changed dramatically and parents are dealing with teenagers on birth control and teenage pregnancy much more now than even a decade ago. Taking control and keeping in mind that even though you may not agree and having your child sexually active at a young age is not a good thing, that children do things behind their parents back the majority of the time. Talking with your child about what the vaccine is and why it was created is the best approach I agree, but talking about it does not mean you condone their behavior. – JSO

First of all, most girls aren’t even capable of getting pregnant at the age of nine, and even though this vaccine can prevent a great deal of HPV cases, I don’t think it should be common practice to force it on girls at such a young age. Some states are even discussing making this vaccine mandatory. Immunizing young girls against a sexually transmitted diseases is much different than immunizing them against common illnesses that can be passed from child to child through everyday contact. This is a moral issue that needs to be examined closely and decided by each parent on a case by case basis, not one that should be legislated and forced down the throats of citizens. – JLL

This is a moral and ethical case I agree, and parents need not to force their child, they need to educate themselves and their children. I feel states should make this mandatory due to the fact that this is the first step to finding the next logical way to prevent STDs besides abstinence. Nine may prove to be to young in most cases but there are children out their baring children at extremely young ages. I know when it is time for my own child to reach puberty I am not going to look away and turn the other cheek to the fact that she needs to be educated and informed as well as be prepared for what she may chose to do during adolescence. The series of shots are given in a “series” for such reasoning: the vaccine itself needs time to take effect so giving children such vaccines is not giving them the privilege to go out and start a sexual relationship, it is merely ensuring that as the child gets older they will be protected from cervical cancer – a cancer that on average kills 3,700 women a year. – JSO

States do not have the right to mandate decisions that have a moral and ethical effect on the population. Whether or not you choose to vaccinate your daughter is your own decision, as it should be for every parent. Aside from the moral issues of vaccination, there is another issue at hand. Gardasil has not been in existence long enough for us to know what possible side effects it could cause in the future. Introducing a powerful drug into a developing body could have effects that we will all regret later. We should not jump to make any new drug mandatory until it has been fully researched and we’ve had the time to see if it has long term consequences. – JLL

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