The Case for Vaccination:
There’s a new vaccine on the market called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is recommended for girls to combat cervical cancer and genital warts. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. HPV spreads through sexual activity. The vaccine is typically recommended for girls between the ages of 9 and 12.
Just the Facts, Please.
Understandably, when parents are approached by their doctors, friends, or family, about giving the new vaccination to their daughters, there’s a mixed reaction. Parents often reason, that their daughters are too young to be sexually active, therefore, they don’t need the vaccine. After all, aren’t our kids vaccinated for enough potential risks? Despite the fact that the HPV vaccine can be important for their daughter’s health, the thought of their babies having sex can be the deal breaker.
In addition, clinical trials on the HPV vaccination are relatively limited, so parents are often concerned about possible long term side effects of the drug – specifically the amount of aluminum contained in the vaccine. Here are the facts to help clarify concerns.
- Statistics indicate that 3.7% of girls have sex before the age of 13, while 62.4% have had sex by the age of 18. So regardless of whether or not you think your daughter’s sexually active, it’s best to error on the side of safety and assume that at some point she may decide to have sex. After all, wouldn’t you feel better knowing that she’s protected against contracting cervical cancer or genital warts? So consider giving her the tools she’ll need to protect herself and her health.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that the HPV vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing cervical cell abnormalities (cervical cancer) when given to girls with no exposure. The CDC also says that there is “no infectious material” contained in the vaccine. And according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), many vaccinations given to children contain some amount of aluminum (such as DTP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis), Pneumococcal conjugate, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis A). The NCI also maintains that aluminum-containing vaccines have a 75-year record of safety globally.
Despite the research, the decision to vaccinate your daughter is a personal one. But before you nix the idea of another vaccination, be sure to do your homework. Look at both the pro’s and con’s of vaccination. Make sure you think carefully about your decision and the possible long term effects it may have on her health.
Getting Through It Together:
If you’ve made the decision to get your daughter vaccinated, it’s time to talk with her about it. Any topic that has to do with sex and shots can be tricky, so try these tips to help ease the conversation.
- Tell her the truth. Explain to your daughter that this vaccine will help prevent cervical cancer. Sometimes tweens and teens think that once they get the shot, they are “fully protected.” If you feel it’s necessary, you can also explain to her that this shot will only protect her against certain strands of HPV and NOT against other types of sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
- Do your homework. Research all of the information about HPV that you can get your hands on. Check out web sites like, WebMd.com for quick and informative information. Just like anything else in your daughter’s life, make sure you have all of the facts about HPV before you make any decisions. A well informed, thoughtful decision is usually the right one.
- Talk with your doctor. Talk with your daughter’s doctor ahead of time. Ask him or her any questions you still have unanswered. Ask your daughter is she would like to speak with her doctor in private about the vaccination. This will give her a good opportunity to ask any questions she may have away from the prying eyes of mom or dad.