The Gardasil vaccine and its use among young women has been a highly debated issue since its release to the U.S. in 2006. There have been multiple suggestions for its mandatory use in a variety of populations–the majority of them have not even reached adolescents yet. One proposal suggested that the vaccine be given to both boys and girls in the juvenile justice system. Others have tried to make the vaccine mandatory for girls entering the sixth grade. Many of these big ideas have been shut down and thankfully so. Individual states have begun to look at making the vaccine a mandatory part of routine vaccinations, and Virginia Republican Kathy Byron has attempted this very act.
However, common sense has prevailed in the issue and a bill has been introduced to the legislature that would repeal the suggestion that most girls in the state receive the vaccine. Sailing through the House of Delegates and a subcommittee, the bill passed 13-7 to put a stop to the potentially dangerous vaccine.
All safety issues aside, there’s also the social aspects that make free use of the vaccine challenging. Many parents and legislators alike fear that young girls and boys may misinterpret the use of the medication as a free ticket for unprotected sex. Believing that the vaccine protects them from STD’s and therefore allowing them to indulge in irresponsible sexual practices has many parents and lawmakers taking a second look at the bill in question. Many parents feel that the decision to have their child vaccinated should be a personal one and not forced by law. Due to the sensitive nature of the shot in combination with the very young age that Gardasil is recommended for (starting at age 9) many parents simply do not wish to discuss sex, or sexually transmitted disease with girls so young and therefore avoid the vaccine.
Supporters of Gardasil cite its high efficacy rates as a justifiable reason to make the shot mandatory. However, research suggests that the efficacy of the vaccine is questionable and many prominent medical researchers have debated whether the vaccine is of any use at all. Claiming that more responsible sexual practices and education in conjunction with promoting annual screenings are key to reducing HPV rates without vaccination. Gardasil sales have slumped in recent years and new data shows that only about 27% of all young women who start the $300 per shot series ever fully complete it.
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