1. This vaccine is ethically produced. It has the potential to prevent infection with the four subtypes of HPV that are associated with 99% of the cases of cervical cancer.
2. This vaccine does not prevent all forms of cervical cancer. It does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, including venereal warts caused by different subtypes of HPV. It does not prevent pregnancy.
3. Women will still need regular pap smears. The only difference between women who have been vaccinated and those who have not is the vaccinated women have a greater chance of having normal pap smears.
4. HPV transmission is not a risk in the school setting or in any community setting. Therefore, HPV prevention does not meet the public health threshold to require mandatory vaccination for school attendance.
5. This vaccine has not established a long enough safe use history to plunge ahead into mandating this vaccination.
Therefore, my own recommendation as well as that of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and other medical organizations, is to support voluntary immunization. If this vaccine is such a good deal, parents will choose it. I find it very interesting that Planned Parenthood, the organization that jealously guards a woman’s right to choose abortion as a private medical decision even when that “woman” is a minor, does not support this same woman’s right to make a private medical decision about getting the HPV vaccine. Planned Parenthood strongly supports mandated vaccination.