Saturday, October 17, 2009

Should My Daughter be One Less?

My Personal Gardasil Debate

While sitting at my daughter's gymnastics class I could not help but overhear a conversation between several other moms about the vaccine Gardasil used in the prevention of HPV (Humanicla papillomavirus). One mom was recalling her daughter's most recent annual exam; she said "The doctor asked my 11 year old daughter if she is sexually active." Now hearing that enraged me, I asked the mom if she was offended by that question and what her response to the doctor was and she said that she was shocked that the doctor had asked her daughter about her sexual activity without first discussing it with her (the mom).

Since I have an 11 year old daughter as well, this conversation opened up an issue that I was not prepared for. The next day I called my daughter's physician and asked her if she would be including my daughter's sexual activity as a line of questioning during her next visit. She told me that she would not ask my daughter that question without first discussing it with me. She also stated that she did not recommend the vaccine for my daughter at this point in her life and that we could revisit the topic in a couple of years. I questioned her as to why would we wait to discuss this if the vaccine is recommended for children as young as 9 and she told me that she takes into consideration the history of the patient meaning she doesn't consider my daughter at a higher risk of contracting a std at this age. She also stated that the vaccine is only found to be effective for 5 - 7 years.

So I am left with my own personal debate of do I have my daughter vaccinated with Gardasil or not. I have read several publications about the safety of the vaccine. The data still leaves a question mark for me. The research shows that there have been 32 deaths somewhat related to the vaccine yet not confirmed as the actual cause. The possibility of the Guillain-Barré Syndrome (an autoimmune disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system causing paralysis) is pretty scary to me as well.

As a Christian mom I pray that my daughter is being taught to respect her body and to wait to become sexually active after marriage. I also understand that there are so many pressures on young children and that it will take more than faith in God to protect her from her peers and other environmental influences. Without a doubt I want to do whatever I can to protect my daughter from any and all illnesses.

Would I be better off not getting this for my daughter or am I doing her a disservice by not protecting her from the possibility of contracting a potentially harmful std? I am open to hearing other mom's opinions on this topic, so please let me know what you think.

9 comments:

Jennifer said...

Hi,
I found out when I was 18 that I had HPV and had a nice sit down with my OBGYN about what we will do when I get cervical cancer! Although I believe I contracted the virus at age 18 I cannot be certain. I also hope that your 11 year old would not even be considering the idea of sex at this point but you can never be sure! I wish my mom would have known about the vaccine and had me get it. Then I might not have this constant worry of how to pay for treatment for myself now that I am in my 20's with children of my own and no health insurance. I know I cannot help you make your choice but please think about the vaccine as a way to help protect your daughter's future no matter what age she is. I hope I helped you out on this issue!

Michelle Parrinello said...

Thank you Jennifer,
I really appreciate your insight on this. I am so sorry this happened to you. I guess my fear is the side effects of the vaccine. Maybe by the time my daughter is 13 or 14 they will have more information on the risks. For your health, make sure you have an annual exam and screen yourself for cervical cancer.

Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with HVP about 4 years ago, and luckily it has since cleared up on it's own. Girls are starting to be sexually active at younger ages these days, and really all you can do as a mother is teach her how to protect herself and respect her body. You can obviously let her know of your wishes to remain abstinent until marriage, but it is very rare... I just wish my mom had talked to me about STD's and the consequences of sex at a young age.

Kate said...

It is not that rare that girls are remaining abstinent until marriage. I think it is comments like the one above that make people think that everyone is doing it and it's almost inevitable that your daughter will fall into it as well. It is very important that you have continuing discussions with your daughter regarding the reasons why sex before marriage is an unwise decision. Not only because of STDs, but because of the bigger matters of the heart and soul. I know of a clinic that administers this vaccine almost as a matter of protocol. My sister who is 22 and recently had her first pap-smear was given the vaccine and charged for it, but had no need for it. She is unmarried and therefore not sexually active (My mom argued with the clinic about this procedure). She plans on marrying a virgin as well, but if she ended up marrying a non-virgin she would take care of necessary vaccines before her wedding. Just so you know, I have many friends who were virgins when they got married. My husband and I were 27 and 25 when we married and we were both virgins. My sisters who are 22, 20 and 17 are all virgins. It is very possible to be beautiful, attractive, fun, athletic and a virgin.

Anonymous said...

Why not protect your child from getting a disease that CAN be prevented? Sex or no sex, is a whole other topic. Most of us want our child to remain virgins and they may lie to us, to "protect us". I am a nurse, my husband is a doctor. I don't think my daughter would ever have sex at such a young age...but I AM going to do whatever I can to protect her, JUST in case...

jps said...

I understand that your main concern is side effects and that is always a valid concern. I too had HPV in my 20s before they even knew much about the connection to cervical cancer. I cannot address all your concerns about side effects but I think probably the benefits outweigh the risks. The first person she has sex with could give her HPV, whether it is her future husband or some slick-talking high school kid. And we have to deal with reality, not what we hope will be true. In the end, you will have to make the decision as best you can. My daughter is only 6 (altho I'm old enough to be her grandma) and so I will not have to make the decision for a few years. My only advice would be, don't let anyone "guilt" you into doing it or not doing it. All that should matter in this case is, what is best for your daughter. God bless and just do the best you can. As my own grandma used to say, that's all Jesus expects from you.

Anonymous said...

I know this was written in 2009, but I came across it accidentally (in search for a mom blog) and couldn't help posting. I was "guilt-ed" into the shots by my mother, who knew I was going to college and more likely than not going to be active. I went through the 3 treatments, feeling worse after each one. The 3rd treatment was during my 1st semester of college. The week after I had the shot, I couldn't function, ended up getting mono from lack of rest, and ended the semester with several hospital trips because of convulsions. Apparently there's a high dose of aluminum in the shots, and I'm highly allergic to certain metals. PLEASE be careful and think before giving "recommended" vaccines. They're very frightening if you're the small percent with a side effect.

Anonymous said...

Please !! Are you talking about normally regular 11 years old girls, or the ones that their parents allow them to do much more. Time will tell when she is ready for this kind of information.

Brandy Hillman-Howard said...

As a mom also, I didn't take much of it seriously at all. Gardasil came out the generation after my own, so I haven't thought much about it. Of course my girls are only 6 and 2. However, in your consideration of getting your daughter vaccinated, I would like to tell you what I just found out about myself. I had a physical a month ago, and two weeks ago I got a phone call from my doctor saying that I needed to have a Colposcopy done due to HPV showing up on my labs. Immediately I started delving into information on HPV. I knew that I had done nothing wrong in getting the vaccine, because it wasn't even known about until 2006, so I couldn't have gotten the vaccine. However, HPV, is Cervical cancer just waiting to happen. I go in for my colposcopy tomorrow to see if there is cancer but, HPV's end result is cervical cancer. Although I pray our daughters wait until they are married to become sexually active, perhaps their spouse won't be that way. Males are the dominant carriers of HPV. HPV is symptomless. I would have had no idea had I not been tested. Not only am I a mom, I'm also a CNA, I see scary things every day. However, the thought that tomorrow I could find out that I have cervical cancer is the scariest thing I've almost ever been through. I would say, get your daughter vaccinated. As far as the death's related to Gardasil: I'm on Coumadin, it kills millions of people. I took the birth control Yaz and had a complete veinous blockage in my brain last May from the birth control. All medication has risks. Every person is different too. You're not going to know how a medication is going to effect you based on Scientific studies, as every single human body is different. I don't even listen to scientific studies anymore. I'd say, God gave us the gift of scientific medicine, we should be thankful and use it. Vaccines safe many more lives than they do kill people. That's just my opinion.