A number of schools across England are reportedly denying access to a potentially lifesaving vaccine for cervical cancer because it goes against their religious policies and teachings against premarital sex.
GP magazine in England identified that 24 schools in 83 of the 152 Primary Care Trusts (state-funded medical facilities) in England have opted out of the vaccine program because it goes against Christian principles that hold firm that sex should only be practiced within the confines of marriage.
The vaccine in question is Cervarix, which protects sexually active females from the HPV virus thought to cause cervical cancer. It is usually administered to girls around the age of 12. The government made the medication available in 2008, and since 2010 more than 80 percent of eligible teenagers in the United Kingdom have gotten vaccinated.
However, a number of Christian schools are deciding not to take up the program because the applications of the vaccine are not "keeping with the school ethos," and because they want "pupils (to) follow strict Christian principles, marry within their own community and do not practice sex outside marriage," the Daily Telegraph reported.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in the U.K has expressed concerns over Christian schools taking such actions, however, and warned that it could pose a risk to young girls who are in need of Cervarix.
"GPs need to know of completion of vaccination courses," explained Dr George Kassianos, immunization lead at the RCGP.
"None of our immunizations are compulsory. We therefore must accept that some children or adults will not be vaccinated. It is hard to understand how immunization against cancer can be rejected but that is how it is out there in the community."
Others have warned that the Christian school's policies against the vaccination could even put lives at risk.
"This is placing their children at risk in later life and should be challenged," said Dr Richard Vautrey from the British Medical Association.
Statistics show that every year, 1,000 women in the U.K. die from cervical cancer.