Tuesday, 5 May 2009

No vaccination here

Disclaimer: I'm not a medical practioner, or other health specialist, nor am I a young woman. However, there are plenty of other people with those same lack of credentials speaking on this topic, so I shall as well.

The big news is that there are some schools not offering to vaccinate young woman (and by that, we largely mean girls) against HPV, the human papillomavirus, aka cervical cancer. There are a number of reasons cited, although there is no information on why schools pulled out, and there is one in particular I want to rail against (go on, see if you can guess which one I take issue with).

One reason is for logistical reasons, that some rural schools might not be able to practically offer it. I'm not sure what the logistical reasons are, and note that in the article the person commenting said "The number could include schools that chose not to take part for logistical reasons, such as small rural schools," thus that there are any schools at all is a guess. There could well be issues in this area, so that cause is fair enough. (As the comment was an off-hand guess, it's not clear if such girls could get the vaccine from their doctor.)

Another collection of reasons is that this vaccine was rushed to market, consent may be an issue, and there have been adverse reactions. And by adverse reactions, this includes reddening/inflamed injection area and worse. The worse is bad, of course, but I've had an inflamed area. It's a vaccination. This happens, including extreme reactions. As for the rushed to market and consent issues, this is more a political issue and gets into an ethical area. The Woman's Health Action Trust is referred to here, and they have linked to more information on this topic.

But then there is this line: "The programme has been controversial, with moral campaigners objecting to vaccinating girls against a cancer they can get only through sexual activity." The only time I have encountered this argument is in the phrasing "if girls get this, it will promote them into sexual activity". This is the same logic as "making abortions available will increase sexual activity". Not to mention "abstinence-only education is the only sexual education young people should get". All from the same source: religious-based morality. Moreover, religious-based morality from men who think they have the right to dictate what happens to women’s bodies.

Nope. Wrong. People will have sex, vaccinated, educated, or not. Putting your fingers in your ears and leaping to tall conclusions from standing starts is... too many degrees of stupid to enumerate.

This vaccine will protect women against a disease they may get. On that ground alone, it is a good thing to do. That this may not be the best vaccine should be a topic that is discussed, but do not refuse treatment because "they will then go out and have sex". As I mentioned, there is no information in the article as to why the schools refused, but I hoped it is not the latter reason.

(And there is some discussion as to why boys don't get it. As far as I am aware (and that isn't far) it isn’t available/suitable for boys. If it is, then I agree they should also get the vaccination.)


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