I’d like to credit Dr James McDaid for his stance taken during the debate in the Dail on the decision to roll back on the HPV vaccination.
I was shocked when I heard that the vacccination programme had been cancelled. It was one of the most pointless, and self-defeating decisions taken following the recent budget. The debate, and discussion in the press, has been somewhat disappointing as well.
Much has been made of the fact that between 70 and 90 women die from cervical cancer every year in Ireland, but I have yet to hear anyone talk about those women who suffer from cervical cancer, receive treatment and survive. Mary Harney talks about the cost of the vaccine, but surely the cost of treating Cervical Cancer would outstrip the small costs of the vaccine programme. In the purely-financial terms of the current situation, this is a decision that is both morally, and financially, bankrupt. It’s reprehensible to consider this as a purely financial issue, but even then it still makes no sense.
I’ve also been shocked by the tone of the debate on some fronts. Highland Radio hasn’t been too bad, but I’ve been told that callers to Ocean FM have focussed very heavily on the moral side of giving this vaccine to younger girls. That idea is based on both an outdated morality, and a severe misundertanding of how this vaccine works.
Firstly, the idea that this vaccine will lead to more young girls engaging in under-age sex is ludicrous. It’s based on the idea that one of the reasons that they aren’t currently is through a fear of Cervical Cancer and HPV, which is nonsense. Indeed, given the extremely poor state of sex education in Ireland, most young girls may well be unaware that HPV can be transmitted through sexual contact, and that it is connected in some cases to Cervical Cancer.
And secondly, there’s a reason this vaccine is recommended for girls aged 12 to 15; that’s the most effective time to give it, to ensure best results. This is not some conspiracy to encourage underage sex, and to claim so is a shocking display of ignorance.
The Government’s handling of this has been ridiculous; the introduction of the vaccine back in August was done ahead of the timeline envisioned by the HSE, and the current shambles shows a lack of clear thinking.
Update: I discussed this issue later today on Highland Radio. Click here for the audio
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