There has been a great deal of debate about the break-through vaccine Gardasil. Developed by Merck & Co., the vaccine is used to prevent the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.
The debate, however, isn't about the vaccine itself which most doctors agree is a wonderful development it's about the implementation. Some states are pushing for the vaccine, recommended for females ages 9 to 26, to be mandatory for girls entering sixth-grade at age 11 or 12.
Proponents argue the vaccine provides an entire generation of women the chance to be cervical cancer free. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who issued an executive order to immunize all Texas sixth graders, says the government mandates other vaccinations and this one is no different. Texas is the first state to mandate the vaccine.
Opponents, which include some doctors, worry about the costs. According to the Associated Press, many practices tie up $50,000 or more in vaccine inventory and must run multiple refrigerators, insure the vaccines and spend time on inventory management. They also must absorb the cost of broken or wasted vials, and they say that's not possible with most insurers reimbursing at just $2 to $15 over the $120 per dose charged by Merck & Co.
It is good to know the American insurance industry has the best interests of its consumers at heart by providing such a roadblock to great preventive care.
So, understandably, doctors are concerned about how much the vaccine would end up costing them and their patients if mandated. Doctors are also worried that, while so far studies have not shown any serious side effects of the three-shot procedure, mandating the vaccination now might be rushed Gardasil has only been on the market since June. Others argue a mandate takes choice out of hands of parents.
However, in order to truly address concerns and move forward to the ultimate goal of eradicating cervical cancer, one issue must be taken out of the debate sex.
Some interest groups have advanced the ridiculous theory that a vaccination for cervical cancer at age 11 or 12 is a green light for girls to become sexually active. If the risk of pregnancy, other sexually transmitted diseases and their own sense of morality cannot stop them from having sex, the risk of cervical cancer is not likely to be the tipping point in the decision making process either.
Once the issues of cost are ironed out, and the product has been on the market a little longer, we encourage Ohio to join the growing chorus of states that will mandate the vaccine. Until then, enter at your own risk if you can afford it.