On top of all the new additions to Rider, like the new buildings and the beginning of WeCar, one more resource has made its way onto campus: the supply of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil, which will soon be available to both male and female students at Health Services. While some students and faculty members are singing its praises, others may be questioning the possible prevention for the widespread virus and if it’s really worth it.
HPV is a disease that can be spread through sexual activity or sometimes you’re just a natural-born carrier. According to Lynn Eiding, the Director of Student Health Services at Rider, it currently affects about 20 million Americans and continues to infect about 6 million more each year, making it the most commonly transmitted infection. There are also some strains of HPV that can turn into something more serious, like cervical cancer.
Not many students are aware of the fact that men are also susceptible to contracting or being a carrier of HPV. Previously, only women could receive the vaccine, but men are now eligible, too. Having the vaccine at our fingertips on campus not only can provide students the opportunity to receive the vaccine but also become more aware of the disease. Of course, the best prevention tips of all would be to abstain from sexual activity, or to always use protection.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 40 different strains of HPV that can be contracted, and the vaccination unfortunately only prevents the four main strains. That leaves a lot of strains not covered by the shot, which can be a little scary. Along with not being fully protected, some Americans believe the shot could trigger other illnesses and cause bad side effects.
In some states, governors have recently required young girls to be vaccinated against HPV. According to the Los Angeles Times, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas had signed an executive order to mandate that young women 11 years and older be vaccinated. After hearing this, Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann threw a fit about the suggested order and, without thinking rationally, claimed that the vaccine was very dangerous and could cause mental retardation. Though many people are worried about possible health risks and reactions from the shot, not even the CDC believes there is any chance of a mental disability side effect, according to the Los Angeles Times. A vaccination of this magnitude should never be state-mandated, yet this claim made by Bachmann was quite a ridiculous one.
The shot is offered to Rider’s student body at a significantly lower price. Normally, through your personal practitioner, it is priced at $160 per dose, and you are required to have three doses in order to “obtain maximum benefits,” according to the mass email all Rider students received from Eiding. Here on campus, it is available to us at a lower cost due to a grant received by Passport Health. Health Services is giving us a discount at a mere $40 for all three doses. Such a significantly lower price seems more geared to our college budget.
Does the decreased price make the vaccination more appealing to students? Will the convenience of having it on campus be a big factor? They may be influential points for some students and their parents: a vaccine available on your campus, at a significantly cheaper price. However, you should know the information from both sides about Gardasil. Look it up online or talk to your doctor about it. It is important, in order to make the best decision for you and your body, to know all the facts about any shot, especially the HPV vaccination.
Students who are interested in getting the vaccine should contact Eiding at Health Services at firstname.lastname@example.org before Oct. 1.
– Kristy Grinere
Junior journalism major