By Sylvia Defendi
Western Australia’s Catholic Education Office has endorsed the use of controversial vaccine Gardasil among all Catholic schools throughout the state.
Gardasil vaccinates young women against cervical cancer as the result of sexually transmitted disease, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes about 70 per cent of HPV-related cervical cancer cases.
The Australian government and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme have approved the vaccine for use and in 2007 began a nationwide vaccination program free of charge to schoolgirls in years 10, 11 and 12.
Director of the CEO, Ron Dullard, said the vaccine had gained his own personal endorsement as well as that of the education office.
“If I was a principal I would be encouraging all young women in the school to get vaccinated,” he said.
Controversy has followed the vaccine, since it was introduced, with allegations of prompting a rise in sexual promiscuity.
One mother of two girls, who wishes to remain anonymous, was not impressed when she received the standard Health Department consent form many young women would have brought home recently.
“Vaccinating children against sexually transmitted diseases is absurd. Gardasil does not protect against every sexual disease and just gives young women a false sense of security.
“I know my daughters have greater respect for themselves to need such a vaccine. When they decide to be sexually active they can choose to have the vaccine, but for now, teens have enough raging hormones to deal with, without needing another excuse to act on their impulses,” she said.
However, Mr Dullard and Principal at Iona Presentation College for girls in Mosman Park, Margaret Herley said the vaccine had little to do with sexual activity and promiscuity.
“A girl does not need to be sexually promiscuous to become infected. Her future husband could be carrying the disease without even knowing, or the unfortunate occurrence of rape could infect any chaste woman,” Mr Dullard said.
Ms Herley also condoned the use of the vaccine, stating that Gardasil protected a woman for life, “whether she be in her teens, twenties or happily married.”
Both Mr Dullard and Ms Herley said they had met with little if not no negative comments from parents with daughters due to receive the vaccine.
Ms Herley also said that students at Iona College were fully informed by staff of the College about the vaccine and their need to lead a life of chastity.
“Parents still have the final say in this matter, as they have the option to consent. However, if they choose to see this vaccine as something that will encourage sexual promiscuity then they need to focus on other factor in that child’s life,” Mr Dullard said.