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Gardasil reduces risk of HPV infection in women

By Rosemary Boeglin

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Junior Katherine “Katie” Hutchins made the decision to protect herself. It was just another check up when her doctor asked her and her mother if Hutchins wanted Gardasil, the leading HPV vaccine, when she made a decision that could potentially save her life.

“I was at a doctors appointment and my doctor explained about the vaccine and said I could get the first shot that day if I wanted. Basically after my doctor explained it, my mom and I looked at each other and nodded, so we didn’t really have a conversation, we just agreed that it was a good idea,” Katie said.

Karen Hutchins, Katie’s mother, said that the decision was an easy one. “(Katie’s father and I) are both from medical fields, so this was not a big deal for us,” Mrs. Hutchins said.

While this may be true for the Hutchins, many disputes have risen over the vaccine. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry attempted to mandate the vaccine to all school-age girls, an action that would eventually be rescinded because of conservative family groups and parents who oppose the vaccine because of its link with sex, according to Martha Irvine of the Associated Press.

Counselor Stephanie Payne said she is not convinced of this correlation. “I don’t think it promotes (promiscuity). It can be a good safety prevention, and obviously there are many other safety prevention options,” Payne said.

Mrs. Hutchins, who said she both favors the vaccine and would recommend it to other teenage girls, said she did not have any great concerns about Gardasil, “I had information about the safety and effectiveness, so I had no outstanding concerns.”

Similarly, Katie said that she did not have any concerns about the vaccine.

“If you get an STD it will affect you for the rest of your life, so I think it’s really important to try to prevent that from happening as much as you can,” Katie said, who also said she would be in favor of receiving other STD vaccines as they became available.

The call for school systems to mandate the vaccine is nation-wide and corresponds to each demographic, according to Gregory Zimet, a professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine who has done research on parental reaction to the vaccine.

“I understand that mandates are the best way to protect the greatest number of people. It’s the best way to deal with health care disparity issues for those who have trouble accessing health care and those who don’t get Pap testing as regularly,” Zimet said.

Mrs. Hutchins felt that while mandates might make sense for other places, it did not seem necessary for Carmel. “I think that it shouldn’t be mandated, but I think that people should always be given the choice and that they should be given proper medical information to make that choice about health benefits and risks” she said.

Mrs. Hutchins went on to say that this school does not have a direct responsibility to inform and educate its female students about this and other STD vaccines, “Carmel is a little different environment, schools (whose students) are often not going to have proper medical care should. I don’t think there are that many cases in Camel (of people without proper medical care), so I don’t think it’s the schools responsibility. The community and the local media have responsibility, and perhaps the school should share in that, but I don’t think it’s their sole responsibility,” Mrs. Hutchins said.

Payne shared in the sentiment that the school does not have the responsibility to educate its students, but it is not out of their realm of influence, “While it’s good for the school to share information, we’re not obligated. We have to do what’s required by the law first, and then, of course, after that we can go above and beyond,” she said.

Katie, on the other hand, said she thought it would be a good idea to mandate the vaccine, “It’s only going to protect you, so why not?” Although she agreed with Payne and her mother that the school should not be held responsible to spread the word about the vaccine,

“I think it would be a good idea for the school to give information about it, but I don’t think it should be the school’s responsibility,” Katie said.


  • Passed through genital contact
  • At least 50 percent of sexually active people acquire it at some point in their life
  • HPV can cause genital warts in both men and women
  • There are about 1 million new cases of genital warts each year in the U.S
  • Two types cause 70 percent of all cervical cancer
  • Two types cause 90 percent of all genital warts



  • Protects against type 6, 11, 16 and 18
  • Meant for women age 9 to 26
  • Given as three injections over a period of six months