Is Gardasil safe? Does it prevent cervical cancer? Do we really need to give it to our daughters? Debate on this thorny issue is raging, even as most governments are offering Gardasil vaccinations to young girls through the school systems, in effect giving it the stamp of approval.
This post will give a quick overview of the pros and cons. Parents are the ultimate arbiters of what is given to their children; the points here will help to guide you in further research of this important life decision for your daughter.
Gardasil is a vaccine for the Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV. This family of viruses is mainly a sexually transmitted disease, and is common. It’s estimated that 6.2 million Americans get introduced to HPV every year. Many infected people will show no signs or problems, as their bodies adapt harmlessly to the new virus or their body defenses successfully eliminate the intruder. However, HPV can cause problems ranging from genital warts to cervical cancer. About 10,000 new cervical cancer diagnoses and 3700 deaths happen in the US every year. Gardasil is an effective prevention for HPV infection. Prevention – it must be given before infection, therefore before sexual activity begins.
Gardasil is effective. It is proven to prevent infection by the 4 HPV variants that cause over 70% of all cervical cancers and genital warts.
Cervical cancer is the number one cancer for women aged 20 to 44.
In 2005, 12,000 diagnoses and over 3900 deaths from cervical cancer were reported in the US.
Over $2 billion is spent on cervical cancer treatment in the US every year.
Side effects from Gardasil vaccination are usually mild – pain at the injection site or dizziness/nausea – and within acceptable general vaccination numbers.
The majority of HPV infections are cleared naturally and do not lead to problems.
Gardasil only prevents 70% of HPV infections.
Rates of cervical cancer diagnoses have been declining steadily, thanks mostly to increased PAP smear monitoring.
Gardasil vaccinations are recommended for girls as young as nine years old, with few studies about long-term effects.
Like many vaccinations, Gardasil contains some aluminum, which has health concerns of its own.
A few vaccinations have led to serious side effects and health problems.
Proper sex education and a responsible sexual lifestyle can reduce a girl’s exposure to the HPV virus. These are the bare bones of the dispute over the Gardasil vaccine’s effects and concerns. Vaccination is a hot-button topic in the healthcare field generally, and Gardasil in particular, so in your searches through the Internet world for more information, be prepared to meet some strong opinions on both sides. But do explore the topic, especially if you have daughters, and arrive at an educated decision that is right for you, based in solid facts and a studied approach. The right answer is the one you will arrive at through your own study of the facts.