How can cervical cancer and Christianity have anything in common? In the UK, the government subsidizes much of the healthcare that is given to the public. This means that people can walk into their doctors’ offices and walk out with no money being transacted. This also means that when vaccines are developed, they are mass distributed to the population instead of only those that can afford to pay to go to the doctor. For some vaccines, like the vaccine against HPV, it is distributed through schools to all of the students.This important vaccine protects against 2 different strains of HPV which cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer.
The problem with HPV is that it is sexually transmitted and sex is basically always controversial. In this case, some schools are refusing to give their female students the vaccination because they feel that if they followed their strict beliefs of not having pre-marital sex, they will never open themselves up to the possibility of any sexually transmitted diseases. Another reason being given which is slightly more understandable is that they do not want to pressure parents to force vaccines in the school setting. The response to this being that notifying local doctors (general practitioners referred to as GPs in the article) would make these vaccines available to them in a non-school setting.
The amount of schools denying the vaccines is not marginal, making up 24 out of 83 primary care trust areas in England. Even worse, only 2 of them notified GPs which means that most doctors aren’t aware that their patients are not receiving the vaccines that are necessary to prevent cervical cancer. Even more, only 5 areas told their pupils about where to go or how to get the vaccines elsewhere. This huge lack of vaccination is leading girls to be put in risk later in life when they lead lives according to their own values, instead of the schools’. It’s also sad to see that schools are not letting their student’s get the most from their healthcare.
It’s amazing to see a government care enough about their people to hand out vaccines to keep them healthy and cancer-free. That is why it is extremely upsetting to me to see a school using its religion as an excuse to prevent students from receiving it. Along the same lines as abstinence-only sex education, it is simply not wise to assume that all religious values will be passed onto students attending a school. Instead of being ignorant about the possibilities, it is more important to provide everything that is needed to keep students safe, something that should be a school’s number one priority. It is not realistic to think that the school can provide a bubble which the students will hide themselves in. It is wiser to teach and protect in all the ways meanwhile teaching their specific religious values. In this case, they should give the vaccinations while at the same time letting the students know that if they don’t have any extra-marital sexual relations then they won’t have anything to worry about (disease-wise and heaven-wise). In conclusion, I hope that the rest of the students realize that their schools are depriving them and speak out since the schools left them in charge of their own health.