In 2006, Gardasil was approved for U.S. distribution as a vaccine for HPV (human papillomavirus), which causes approximately 70% of worldwide cervical cancer cases. The vaccine is given in three doses and protects against many cervical cancers along with the causes of 90% of genital warts. The controversy for some people comes in as it pertains to age, because Gardasil is recommended for girls between 11 and 12 years of age, and as young as nine. Females up to 21 years of age can get the vaccine if they have not already been vaccinated, and women older than 21 are not eligible - presumably because they are more likely to be in relationships where they are less promiscuous. However, this is not always the case. There are many medical discussions surrounding Gardasil, but there is more than medicine to be considered where the vaccine is concerned. It is also very important to look at the HPV vaccine from a sociological standpoint, in order to have a better idea as to how giving a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease to young girls can be healthy from an emotional and mental standpoint.
Physical health notwithstanding, emotional health also matters, and staying mentally and emotionally healthy can be tricky for a young girl who already must navigate the maze of school, home, friends, and a budding interest in boys. However, does sending the message of protection from sexually transmitted diseases affect how these young girls think about sex - or whether they begin to think about it earlier in life? That is a question that has been debated since the Gardasil vaccine became available, and there are two sides to the argument. There are those who feel that the vaccine saves lives and should be used at every opportunity, and there are those who feel it sends a sexual message to girls who are much too young to be considering sex. However, the vaccine is safe and effective, and important in a world where people are having sex at younger ages than they were in the past. Why would someone want to avoid a vaccine that could potentially save their life and that could prevent a very serious type of cancer that often gets diagnosed too late?
Sociology can work toward answering that question. People need to be part of a group. They want to feel included, and they want to belong. People who do not belong to any group often feel as though they are not as important as other people, or that they are "less than" in some way. Because of that, they look for ways that will make them popular or that will get others involved with them and interacting with them on some level. For many young people today, the way to be accepted by their peers is to have sex. That may or may not be the best choice, and this paper is not about arguing whether sex is a good or bad choice for young teenagers. The point here is that sex is something that people often do in order to be accepted. They may want to be accepted by their partner, or they may want their friends to think that they are grown up or part of a particular kind of crowd. Because they have that need to belong, they will (in some cases) choose sex as a form of gaining acceptance. If they are going to have sex, they should be protected as much as possible from the problems that they can encounter from being sexually active.
Recently, the HPV vaccine has also been recommended for boys in the same age group, since it is not only girls who can get illness and disease from the HPV virus. Girls are still the main focus of the vaccine, though, because of the cervical cancer risk. For a long time, doctors did not know for sure what caused cervical cancer. They did know that some women who were more promiscuous than others seemed to be more likely to get cancer, but they were uncertain what the link was or if there really was a link. With the discover that HPV caused up to 70% of all cervical cancers throughout the world, doctors finally established a link that indicated that something had to be…