On Friday, the governor of Texas announced he would require the relatively new HPV vaccine for all girls entering the sixth grade. The move has some people up in arms, saying it encourages girls to have premarital sex or that Gov. Rick Perry made the decision because of his connections to Merck, the makers of the Guardasil vaccine.
Yes, Merck has a lot to gain by pushing governors and state legislators to require the vaccination. At $360 for a course of three injections, the company stands to make billions of dollars. The company’s motives certainly aren't selfless, but really, $360 is a lot less expensive than months of cancer treatments and the loss of affected women’s fertility.
As far as the issue of premarital sex, I knew this was going to be a problem when I first heard about the vaccine months ago. The decision to vaccinate one's daughter can bring up some unsettling thoughts.
First, the vaccine's maker calls for girls to be vaccinated between the ages of 9 and 26, and really, earlier is considered better. Apparently, sixth-grade was picked as the hallmark in Texas because most girls aren't sexually active before that age.
If I were a parent of an 11-year-old, the last thing I would want to think about would be here future sexual activity. I would be concerned about how to explain this round of vaccinations to her and how much I should really tell her. Of course, by the time she’s 11, I hope we would have already had a serious conversation about the birds and the bees. This might be a good time to add some new information.
Second is the issue of premarital sex. For some, the ideal situation would be that no young person have sex before they married. But that situation rarely exists. For better or worse, people always have had and probably always will have premarital sex.
Even if my theoretical daughter waits until marriage, what's to say her husband has? Why not give people the best protection possible? This isn't an issue of moral standards or proper behavior -- it's life or death.
What do you think? Is Perry overstepping his bounds or is he right on? Go ahead and comment and let us know. And if you're feeling really fired up, let us know here.