The saga of the HPV vaccine seems to be following a familiar path. Taking a leaf out of the story of the Hepatitis B vaccine, the subject of many debates and controversies, experts were able to evaluate the merits of its inclusion in the mandatory immunization programme for infants.
According to statistics, about 250,000 Americans are down with Hepatitis B infection each year. One-fifth of these people would eventually become inevitable carriers of infection. Therefore it became crucial to include Hepatitis B in the vaccination program of infants. Now, it is compulsory for all children to take this vaccine to be admitted into any primary school.
The present raging debate is over the human papilloma virus which causes cervical cancer. Should the vaccination for HPV be made compulsory for girls?
According to statistics, about 14,000 women are victims of cervical cancer and one-fourth of them do not survive the disease. During the clinical trials conducted involving 20,000 women, it was observed that the HPV vaccine was able to prevent 70 percent of the growths, which otherwise would have led to cervical cancer. There were no significant side effects.
Presently only Merck and a handful of supporters, support a possible HPV-vaccine mandate. This has naturally got the critics (of immunization programs) thinking and they have begun garnering support from those who are concerned about a potential HPV-vaccine mandate.
Considering that the virus is as common as the influenza virus to which nearly 80% of women are exposed to, it might be worthwhile to protect them against the risks of HPV. But for now, experts prefer to wait instead of rushing with the implementation of the HPV vaccine.