HPV vaccine

By Megan Kutulis
November 6, 2008

“O-N-E L-E-S-S.I wanna be one less…one less!” I don’t know about anyone else, but, aside from freecreditreport.com, I think the Gardasil commercial song might be the catchiest one on television. By catchy, I don’t necessarily mean clever-I mean it won’t leave my head at the most random times. But I think that might be how they planned it.

Gardasil, more commonly known as the HPV vaccine, was created to help combat different types of cervical cancer in women.

Although not all ages are approved for the vaccine, girls and women ages nine to 26 have been given the OK.

It would seem like mothers would be rushing
their daughters out the door for these vaccines, but, according to Newsweek, only two out of 10 women have received the vaccine so far.

Despite ad campaigns to be “one less,” most women just aren’t buying it. And although I hate to say it, I can’t say I blame them. I definitely don’t think the HPV vaccine is a bad thing, but other than a catchy tune on my television, I really don’t know all that much about the vaccine or the disease.

Maybe it’s my fault that I haven’t been online checking stats or facts, but I would think that if you’re willing to pitch a vaccine to a variety of women nationwide,
you might try and give a little more information.

I get that every woman on the commercial didn’t know that HPV could cause cervical cancer. Neither did I. But telling me that isn’t exactly a call to action to go get vaccinated.

Besides a lack of up-front information, and probably a better reason anyway, many women have opted out of the HPV vaccine because the procedure, which involves a series of three shots, isn’t cheap. The whole process costs about $360 and happens over the course of six months.

This might not seem like a lot of money to an area that shops at Burberry when they’re “cutting back,” and for most insured women in America, the cost usually isn’t stopping them.

But for uninsured women and lower income
families, the price is daunting. Especially for a vaccine that, although beneficial, isn’t really a necessity.

Then there’s the whole taboo sex education
vs. abstinence argument that has been plaguing society for quite awhile. Parents are having a hard time vaccinating their 10- year-old daughter for a disease that is sexually transmitted.

Understandable. But while some parents just find the subject a little bit awkward to sit down and talk about over dinner, there are others who seem to think that by paying for the vaccination, they are also giving out a free pass to having sex.

First of all, I don’t really think that anyone’s daughter is going to be rushing out of the doctor’s office looking to have sex because now she has the HPV vaccine.

And second, if she was already sexually active, wouldn’t you want her to be safe about it?

Although I realize it’s a question of personal beliefs, I just don’t see how vaccinating against a disease is promoting sex.

Nobody gets the rabies vaccine and looks for a raccoon just to make sure it works.

If there’s one thing I can agree with most people on, it’s that the vaccine shouldn’t be mandatory. It’s a choice that women need to make for themselves, and that parents should discuss with their daughters.

If it’s going to be a mandatory vaccine, insurance companies need to up the ante on helping to pay for it, and families who just can’t come up with the cash don’t deserve to pay for a mandatory vaccine.

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Megan Kutulis

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