What price, vaccinations?

What price, vaccinations?

There’s a big push on in certain circles to have some sort of mandated vaccination program for all girls between 9 and 18 to receive the Gardasil shot. This vaccination is intended to prevent cervical cancer caused by the sexually transmitted disease HPV. Here’s the controversy: While the vaccine is touted as preventing cervical cancer from HPV, it must be taken by girls in their adolescent years. Of course, since you can only get HPV through sexual activity, some folks believe that giving their daughters the vaccine will be a tacit acknowledgment that they engage in premarital sex. I’m not sure if I buy that argument or not. For one thing, you don’t have to tell your pre-teen daughter that’s what it’s for and, human nature being what is, it is still possible for your daughter—no matter how well you raise her—to user her free will and make a mistake somewhere down the line. I don’t believe the vaccine itself is immoral, which is in contrast to the use of contraceptives.

Miss Kelly looks at the economic, scientific, and political ramifications of the vaccine. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry wants to make the vaccinations mandatory, which makes some people suspicious because Perry has ties to Merck, the drug’s manufacturer. Other states are also considering making it mandatory as well, along the lines of other vaccinations required of all students in public schools.

Safety, effectiveness, and delinquency

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
14 comments
  • This vaccine is bugging me too.  I don’t like that they’re pushing it so aggressively – there are even pamphlets encouraging it at our pediatrician’s office.    It’s become a political football and my side of the aisle is mostly against it.  I don’t like to hear that I must get my child vaccinated with a shot whose longterm safety has not been studied.    However, what if my daughter marries a man who is a carrier of HPV?  Will I have been a negligant mother if I refused her this vaccine?

    I agree with you Dom that kids get vaccines all the time and don’t necessarily know exactly what they prevent – and an explanation that Gardisil will prevent “most instances of cervical cancer” will suffice for even the most curious girls.  There need be no discussion of sex at all.

  • NOt that this is dispositive of the question, but if you exclude rape from the definition of sexual activity (certainly, it’s not considered sexual intercourse under Catholic moral theology but an act of violence), then the vaccine’s purpose might be more that unitary, as it were.

  • This is a situation where parents should talk to their family doctor (whom they presumably trust), to get all of the information before making a decision.  Sara of http://www.parentingwithsara.com just wrote a column about this, illustrating how parents can become confused when they lack information.  cheers, tk

  • We just had an article on it in our local paper.  One quote that really got me was that “they” didn’t see it coming (meaning the uproar.)
    I went into on my blogin depth, but to me this is a parental rights issue.  As a parent, I think I should be able to judge what is necessary for my child.  I have serious reservations about the safety and effectivness of the drug.  And about the political issues that surround the Texas mandate.

  • This may be justified as a public health measure – provided the vaccine is demonstrated to be safe and effective.

    As Eileen points out, a chaste daughter can marry a man who has been infected.

    The state could pay for the vaccines on the ground that there is a public health benefit and allow individuals to opt out.

  • Before this expensive vaccine was developed, the only people I heard talking about HPV were abstinence advocates.  That silence was pretty telling.

    Isn’t there an equal protection issue here if only young girls and not young boys are compelled to get the vaccine? Sure, the vaccine might only work on women, but that doesn’t make equality issues go away.

    I also wonder what other opportunistic bugs will continue to propagate among the promiscuous, since there is no effort being made to change the behavior that creates the problem in the first place.

  • My objection to this issue is that in Texas they have made it mandatory. Compulsive prophylactic treatment for a sexually transmitted disease for, by and large, virgins is a travesty of governance.

    I don’t live in Texas but I’ll damned if some pol is going to force my daughter to take this vaccine. It’s the ultimate in political arrogance. We do not live in a tyranny and I won’t act like we are.

  • You aren’t the only one who has reservations about this vaccine – so does the chairman of the CDC.

    http://washingtontimes.com/business/20070226-115014-2031r.htm

    “The chairman of the federal panel that recommended the new cervical-cancer vaccine for pre-teen girls says lawmakers should not make the inoculation mandatory, as the District and more than 20 states, including Virginia, are considering.”

  • I do not think this vaccine should be mandatory.  It is expensive and the public health benefit is limited, and it should be up to parents as to whether or not a child receives the vaccine.

    However, I don’t think this is such an issue of promoting promiscuity as some people seem to.  If I had a daughter I would probably have her vaccinated.  Why?  Because I can’t guarantee she won’t fall into sexual sin at some point on the one hand, and on the other hand, I can’t guarantee the man she someday marries will have always been chaste.  In either case, I would want to protect her physical health.

  • I can’t believe Gov. Patrick didn’t make it mandatory. I was suprised when he just made it available for free this past week and actually allowed parents help make the decision. The commercials are really annoying and rather insulting to one’s intelligence. Merck won’t dare say HPV is an STD, all they say is that it is a virus with a bunch of ladies and girls saying “I didn’t know cervical cancer was caused by a virus” and “I’ll be one less.”

  • This is what the Family Reasearch Council says….

    Raising Kaine on HPV

    Although headlines are rampant with the suggestion that one in four women (between the ages of 14 and 59) is infected with HPV, the real shock of the study, released in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was somewhat buried. Lost in the panic surrounding the high HPV-infection rate is a footnote that should cause even greater concern for Gardasil advocates. Only 3.4% of the women studied had an infection that the new vaccine protects against. While many are touting the epidemic as justification for mandating the shots, the reality is that Merck’s vaccine still leaves women vulnerable to a significant number of HPV strains, including those that cause 30% of the cases of cervical cancer. This news should give pause to Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) as he considers whether or not to sign a bill that would require the shots for schoolgirls. In an interview, Kaine said that he may try to amend the bill to include a more “generous opt-out provision” for parents. However, as FRC has said all along, the burden should be on the government—not parents—to convince Americans about the need for the vaccine. FRC is contacting Gov. Kaine and asking him to reassess his idea of expanding the opt-out criteria and instead promote an opt-in measure that would affirm parents’ rights. In the meantime, legislators should ponder the greater cultural crisis of experimentation and promiscuity that created the epidemic in the first place. Along with the option of vaccination, states should educate children on an even better way to fight HPV—abstinence and monogamy.

  • Let’s see.  The vaccine is safe and effective.  Abortion is NOT linked to breast cancer.  And the pill is great for your skin, never mind a few “minor” side effects (DON’T take the time to read the tiny print on the insert if you want to hold onto that illusion, women). 
    Uhhh… I think I’ll take my chances teaching my daughter chastity and what to do if potential mates need screening for STD’s.  Speak up, girl, it’s the 21st Century; if your man wasn’t chaste, demand screening/tests.  You aren’t a guinea pig for men who haven’t learned that women aren’t objects for their pleasure.  That’s what I’m teaching my girls… assuming the government butts out.
    My girls will know the risks, options, etc. of sexual activity when I determine they are old enough to handle it, and they can choose the vaccine themselves when they are old enough.  If they “need” it at a young age, I’m sure Uncle Sam the Nanny State will provide it without parental notification and all.

  • KC,

    Don’t forget the lie that culturing vaccines in fetal tissue does not constitute material cooperation with abortion.

  • Mandatory vaccinations are always troubling because some vaccines are manufactured using human cell lines.  Look it up. 

    Example.  Hepatitis A vaccine is cultured on chicken tissue in Europe but generally on fetal tissue in the states.  It’s a problem for Catholics.

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