To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: The HPV Vaccine
USA Today recently came out with a story concerning the growing number of parents who either have not or do not plan to ever get their teenagers vaccinated for HPV. According to the CDC, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection and there are more than 40 different types of this virus. HPV can lead to serious health issues including cervical cancer. Although the vaccine cannot offer protection from all forms of HPV, it does lower the risk against the most common types. The vaccine has also been deemed safe with very little side effects. With all that being stated, I have to admit, I’m one of those parents who when asked by her doctor if I wanted my teen daughter to have the HPV shot, I said, “Not at this time.”
I’m not going to quote all of the statistics or site all of the reasons why these particular parents are having issues with the HPV vaccine, but instead give you my reasons why I’m not prepared to have my daughter get this shot. I realize there are parents out there who are staunchly against giving their children vaccines while others couldn’t even conceive the idea of allowing their kids to not be vaccinated. I’m somewhere on the fence but I do admit, I’ve always permitted my children’s doctor to vaccinate. The HPV vaccine was the first time I refused and the reasons I did so I will be happy to share with you.
One of the reasons I was reluctant to give my daughter’s doctor the thumbs up was due to the fact that this was all still new to me. I’ve heard of polio, diphtheria, and hepatitis. I also know that those vaccines have been around for quite some time. But both HPV and the vaccine for this virus were foreign to me. Maybe I was living under a proverbial rock but I first heard of HPV right around the time the vaccine came out. I realize now that HPV was around for a long time but were the number of people who were infected so great they just had to come out with a vaccine for it? As a parent, I want my children to have all the protection from harm that’s available to them but it was like someone handed me a weapon I didn’t know anything about and was told, “Here, use this.” I’m not going to protect my kids using something I know nothing about no matter how many Gardasil commercials I see.
Another reason why I hesitated to get the vaccine was because it was for teens and young adults who hadn’t been sexually active yet. My daughter doesn’t have a boyfriend nor does she date. Her father and I have let her know that she’s too young to be serious about a boy but if one “catches her fancy”, we’d discuss it. Much to our great pleasure, no young man has caught our daughter’s eye (at least not to the point where she would pursue him) and there has been no indication she wants to date. I believe when that time comes and we discuss that subject that all parents dread but need to talk to their teenagers about, we will contemplate getting her the HPV shot at that time. Why the rush? Even my daughter asked, “Why do I need that shot now if I’m not going to be doing that for a long time?” Exactly.
Finally, I said “no” because in that moment I had the rebellious notion to refuse a vaccine. With my first child came the standard Clark County Health District issued shot record. It was pre-printed with all of the immunizations that were required at time. When my second child was born nearly eight years later, I noticed the record got longer and three years after that , it was even longer with my third child. At some point, I had to ask myself, “Are all these shots really necessary and how the hell am I still alive?” Are my children somehow more at risk than I was as a child? Or is someone profiting off of this belief that if you don’t give your kids the newest and latest vaccine, bad things will happen? And do the benefits outweigh the risks because there are side effects to this vaccine that are not pleasant.
In the end, I have no immediate plans to get my teenager immunized against HPV. I understand that this is a serious virus and my daughter can be exposed to it when that time comes. However, I’m at peace with my decision mostly because I know and trust my daughter and I’m still doing my part by researching this vaccine. And when another immunization hits the market (and you know that will happen), I will do exactly the same because ultimately, I know what’s best for my children.
CBS “Gardasil: Health Concerns”
What do you think of the HPV vaccine? Are you a parent who has or hasn’t had your teenager vaccinated? Tell us your thoughts.