Sunday, July 2, 2006

Vaccine's side-effects not sexual

Earlier this month, the FDA approved the first vaccine specifically designed to prevent cancer. Gardasil, made by Merck & Co., protects against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes cervical and vaginal cancers and genital warts.
An amazing medical breakthrough, don’t you think?

However, some sectors of society are not too keen on the idea of vaccinating young girls against a sexually transmitted virus. Why, you may ask? Well, the vaccine is most effective when given to girls prior to becoming sexually active, and, as Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council put it to New Scientist, “Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.”

Yes, clearly the threat of getting cervical cancer 40 years from now is what’s keeping girls from having sex — with that risk gone, who knows what could happen. Of course, it’s better for women to get cancer than have premarital sex.
Despite opposition from the religious right, the vaccine received another nod of approval Thursday, this time from the highly influential Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The committee, whose recommendations are usually recognized by federal heath officials, said 11- and 12-year-old girls should be routinely vaccinated.

As some conservatives writhe in religious discomfort, the rest of the logical population can appreciate the likelihood of the vaccine greatly decreasing the nearly 4,000 cervical cancer deaths each year in the United States.
The implied sexual evils resulting from the vaccine are imagined, and parents shouldn’t allow those predicting family-values doom to influence their decision to vaccinate their children against a potentially life-threatening virus.

Laura Michaels
Opinions editor

No comments: