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Gardasil be Mandatory for Sixth-grade Girls

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted virus that may cause a number of illnesses, one of which is cervical cancer that inflicts 12,000 women and kills 3,700 women every year (Senay, 2007; Allen, March 2, 2007). According to Dr. Emily Senay (2007), 1 out of 4 women have HPV, and in the age group of 20-24, 45% of women have the virus.

While the different states discuss the possibility of including Gardasil in the list of school vaccines, the only existing vaccine against four of the hundreds of types of HPVs, Texas became a trail blazer by being the first state to issue an executive order requiring the vaccine to be a requirement for sixth-grade girls (with the possibility of opting out based on religious or philosophical reasons (Allen, February 8, 2007).

Faced with the on-going discussions country-wide on whether or not Merck’s Gardasil should be compulsory for a certain slice of the population, this paper will attempt to look at both sides of the issue. Ultimately, this paper would show that the executive order of Texas’ governor is correct, that Gardasil (or an equally effective vaccine in the future) should be obligatory for grade-six girls. To even go one step further, the vaccine ought to be obligatory not only for grade-six girls but even to grade-six boys.

This argumentative essay will have four parts: a short discussion on the existing HPV vaccine; an exposition of the arguments against mandating of the HPV vaccine; an exposition of the arguments for the mandating of the HPV vaccine; and a conclusion stating why mandating of the vaccine makes more sense than not mandating it to grade-six girls and boys. Gardasil, an HPV Vaccine The huge pharmaceutical company, Merck, came out with Gardasil, the world’s first HPV vaccine last year, and was granted a license by the Food and Drug Administration for use of women ages 9-26 mid of 2006 (Guardian Unlimited, 2006).

This new vaccine is intended to protect against four types of HPV’s, types 6, 11, 16, and 18. These HPV types account for 70% of cervical cancer cases and 90% of genital wart cases. (Medical News Today, 2006). As such, the vaccine could give 100% protection against diseases caused by these four HPV strains. In general, Gardasil is meant to protect women against the following diseases: cervical cancer, genital warts, cervical adenocarcinoma, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia, and vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (Merck, 2007, p. 7).

Aside from its obvious beneficial effects on women, men may also benefit from this vaccine. According to gynecologic oncology Professor Bradley Monk, men may also benefit from this vaccine by protecting them against genital warts, as well as making them less prone from being carriers of the said virus strains. This new vaccine was clinically tried on 25,000 patients, 5% of which were pre-teen girls (Allen, February 8, 2007). Gardasil proved to be safe and could be administered along with hepatitis B vaccine, but has not been tested concomitantly with other types of vaccines (Merck, 2007, p.8).

It proved to be efficient even with or alongside contraceptives; nevertheless it has not been tested or evaluated on its “potential to cause carcinogenicity or genotoxicity” (Merck, 2007, p. 8). Clinical trials of the vaccine on pregnant women are also wanting. Nevertheless, the vaccine proved not only efficacious but most especially safe, as could be seen from the Merck report (2007) on Gardasil’s clinical trials. The trials did not report on gross unwanted effects of the vaccine, aside from the minor injection-site adverse experiences such as mild and moderate pain and swelling (p. 12).

The vaccine is administered intramuscularly in three separate 0. 5 ml doses. The schedule for its administration is as follows: elected date; 2 months after the first dose; and 6 months after the first dose (Merck, 2007, p. 13). As of the present time, since Gardasil just came out of the market, phase IV clinical trials are wanting. Phase IV trials are given after a drug has been granted a license to further test on drug side-effects and safety; long term risks and benefits; and the performance of the drug once it is administered on a wider population compared to the original clinical trial population (Cancer Research UK, 2007).

There are obviously other things that this vaccine ought to be tested on, such as a fuller account of the effect of the vaccine on women who already have HPV prior to the administration of the vaccine, i. e. , a testing on the vaccine’s possible therapeutic effects; an extension of the clinical trials on older women (Susman, 2005); the exact efficacy period of the vaccine; among many other things. GlaxoSmithKline will also come out with its own version of HPV vaccine similar to Gardasil sometime soon. This might prove to be a good thing not only to give people choices; but also to balance out on HPV vaccine prices.

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