Gardasil is a vaccine being made by Merck & Co., Inc. which has been approved by the FDA to prevent cervical cancer in young women between the ages of 9 and 26. Gardasil is a vaccine against the HPV or Human Papillomavirus. The Gardasil vaccine protects those who receive it against 4 types of HPV, including the two types that cause most cervical cancers and the two types that cause the most genital warts. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts, abnormal Pap tests, and cervical cancer. Since Gardasil prevents HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, it is important that it be given before people become sexually active. According to the American Centers for Disease Control, getting as many girls vaccinated as early and as quickly as possible will reduce the cases of cervical cancer among middle-aged women in 30 to 40 years and reduce the transmission of this disease. Unfortunately, there are many skeptics and obstacles in the way. These include the limited understanding by many people that HPV causes cervical cancer, the difficulty of getting pre-teens and teens into the doctor's office to get a shot, and the cost of the vaccine ($120/dose, $360 total for the three required doses, plus the cost of doctor visits). One way to bring down the cost of the vaccine and to educate the public on the benefits of vaccination is to make it mandatory for girls entering school. This approach has been taken with vaccines for mumps, measles, rubella, and hepatitis (which are also sexually transmitted) so many state legislators have penned bills that do this.
Some experts think that Gardasil may lead to controversy because parents will have problems with giving a vaccine that prevents STD's to pre-teens. Other parents might not want a vaccine against an STD at all, believing that their children could not be at risk. And still others think that Gardasil might encourage promiscuity, since it could foster the belief that it protects against STDs. An issue...
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