Merck has decided to stop their push in various state legislatures to mandate Gardasil, their HPV vaccine, for all school-aged girls. Gardasil is the vaccine that has the potential to protect against cervical cancer by innoculating against certain strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
Even before Gardasil became available, Merck - the New Jersey based makers of the vaccine, started campaigning to raise awareness. Texas recently became the first state to require the vaccine for school aged girls. There are currently twenty other state legislatures debating the same requirements.
But, according to a statement made by Rick Haupt, director of medical for Merck's vaccine division, there isn't enough state funding to pay for the expensive three-dose vaccine (each vaccine costs approximately $120, making it a $360 vaccine altogether!). And the American Academy of Pediatrics says there isn't enough "public acceptance" either. Also, there is talk that more research needs to be done before a large scale push to mandate a vaccine should happen.
I think Gardasil has tremendous implications if given to as many young girls as possible - in this country but even more significantly in developing countries where examinations like PAP smears and access to gynecological health care is rare. As a parent of a young girl, I want to know what the side effects are, I want to make sure that the benefits of giving the vaccine outweigh potential deleterious effects. But I think this vaccine has obviously been saddled with the weight of controversy by the nature of what it protects against.
But this has always boggled my mind. Hepatitis B is an STD and children routinely get innoculated against Hep B. Why no outrage?! Oh, because, this is for girls only. And we want our girls pure. We don't want to taint our girls sexual purity by protecting them against something that they should have no problem avoiding as long as they avoid sex for any and all reasons.
Off on a tangent I go. The thing is, I think we should be able to find funding for this. At Aradia Women's Health Center, I became almost obsessed with the HPV vaccine as soon as I heard it would soon be available. I did a lot of the prep work at the clinic to prepare for AWHC being able to provide the vaccine to our clients. I worked on it to the exclusion of almost everything else & AWHC was one of the first - if not the first - health provider in Seattle to be able to offer the vaccine to our clients.
But, of course, as with all health care in this country, the vaccine was available only to the more privileged. Some insurance companies decided to cover it. But for the great majority of our clients who used subsidy in some form or another to cover their health care, the vaccine was too expensive and therefore completely unavailable to them.
I hope the proper data is collected so that the major medical organizations in this country and the organizations working on sexual and reproductive health internationally are able to distribute the vaccine widely, ensuring that all girls have at least one more tool to protect themselves against an STD as well as cervical cancer.
For more on this, see Tyler's post on RH Reality Check!
Check these out...
- my friend Alex' words
- New Moon Magazine
- A Year in Namibia
- Shakespeare's Sister
- Reproductive Health Reality Check
- Mothers Acting Up!
- Progress Now: Maternal Might Not Just a Celluloid Fantasy
- Amie on Seattle's KUBE radio station
- Taking Mother's Day Back to its Roots
- Women's enews article I'm quoted in!
- I Had An Abortion Stories
- Our Truths, Nuestras Verdades
- A Year in Namibia
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- ► 2006 (25)