Cervical cancer kills 3,700 American women a year ["Cervical Cancer Vaccine Gets Injected With a Social Issue; Some Fear a Shot for Teens Could Encourage Sex," news story, Oct. 31].

My aunt Lucy Callaway died a horrible death from cervical cancer. My wife escaped death only through major surgery.

The concerns about vaccination voiced by the Christian Medical and Dental Associations and the Family Research Council reveal a "better dead than red" mentality by which these organizations place their "values" above the lives of millions of women.

THOMAS P. LOWRY

Woodbridge

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The Oct. 31 article cited fears and hopes about the cervical cancer vaccine becoming mandatory for children.

First, there is no such thing as a mandatory vaccine or a mandatory vaccine schedule. It is legal in every state for parents to refuse vaccinations for their children. Even the so-called mandatory vaccine lists for admittance to public schools are subject to exemption. Parents can fill out a form at their local health department stipulating that they are refusing vaccination. With this waiver, public schools must admit an unvaccinated child unless the child is not immunized against a disease that is on the mandatory list and that has broken out at a specific school.

Further, the point of mandatory vaccinations was to protect schools from becoming breeding grounds for contagious diseases such as polio, viral strains of meningitis, chickenpox, measles, mumps and rubella. The subject of abstinence or teenage sexuality set aside, it is ridiculous to think that a public school would have any business stipulating a vaccine to guard against cervical cancer because the virus linked to cervical cancer is sexually transmitted. Why would public schools have the audacity to say that this vaccine would be necessary to protect the health of students on school property?

Cervical cancer is an important health issue for women. It is not, however, a public health issue for the public schools.

RENE HARRELL

Chantilly

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Are some social conservatives really proposing that public health officials ought not require vaccination because it might -- emphasis on might -- promote sexual activity among young women?

What's next? No hepatitis B vaccines because they might promote intravenous drug use?

MELISSA SCHOBER

Silver Spring