Now I would defend, vehemently, the right of the school to make this decision. It is the school's property, and parents have the choice whether or not to send their daughters to the school. Furthermore, as the vaccine is taxpayer funded, there should be other options to obtain the vaccination if parents so choose. I do not object to the right to withhold it. This is a libertarian stance - asserting private property rights.
However, as an objectivist, I find the stance itself based on irrational and immoral grounds. It has been reported that the letter announcing the reasons for withholding permission
"points out that the vaccine protects against only 70 per cent of cervical cancers, and gives details of possible side-effects to the jab".
Only 70%!! As opposed to all those vaccinations derived from the Vatican, which has done wonders in fighting cancer over the years. Now the side effects are logical to advise about, but that should then be a question of rational trade off.
The real problem the school has is with sex. "Morally it seems to be a sticking plaster response. Parents must consider the knock-on effect of encouraging sexual promiscuity. Instead of taking it for granted that teenagers will engage in sexual activity, we can offer a vision of a full life keeping yourself for a lifelong partnership in marriage".
So dramatically reducing the risk of a cancer that at best could mean a lengthy period of medical treatment, at worse death, is "encouraging sexual promiscuity". Well then by extension there should be NO vaccinations, indeed there shouldn't even be any drugs or treatment for people with STDs or HIV should there? The threat of cancer discourages sexual promiscuity.
So presumably the school and the church regards those girls who get cervical cancer as sinful, and deserving of their fate - because after all, they should have not sinned because, somehow, that protects you completely from the papilloma virus and cervical cancer. As usual, the wisdom of celibate men on these matters
Is anyone delivering the message that "get this vaccine and you can shag without protection happily"? Of course not. The message is more a case of, here is a vaccine that could possibly save your life. Nobody is saying that the risk of pregnancy has gone or the risk of HIV or other STDs. Who thinks that girls go "hold it, I might get the papilloma virus, I will wait till I'm married". Most who do wait do so for a host of reasons which are emotional and rational, none of which celibate men are really in a place to understand well. Much as they understand a "full life keeping yourself for a lifelong partnership in marriage" - an ideal I think is rather lovely, if it is sustained genuinely rather than by altruistic sacrifice.
However it is more serious than that. Women can get cervical cancer from the papilloma virus without having been sexually promiscuous. Indeed people can get HIV without having been sexually promiscious as well. Yet the school, and by implication the Roman Catholic Church cares not about that. Death apparently isn't so important that the achievements of medical science should be as widely available as possible to delay it.
Moral? Hardly. It is one thing to frighten young girls into fearing an eternity of agony and damnation if they dare wander off a certain path, it is another to deliberately deny them a means to prevent the onset of a fatal disease, so that the threat of that disease can be hanging over them if they wander off that path. So not only do they risk being punished in this life, but having that life shortened as well.
The school has every right to do this, but that does not make it immune from criticism for its apparent motives.