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Hot Topic (10/29): Would you vaccinate your child against a sexually-transmitted disease?

Posted by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:00 AM
  • 68 Replies

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Still Questioned 
By Christopher Wanjek, LiveScience's Bad Medicine Columnist

A double-punch approval by the FDA last week for two vaccines to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and, ultimately, several types of cancer has reignited another vaccine controversy, although this time not without just cause.

On Friday the agency approved Gardasil for boys to prevent genital warts caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV). The FDA already had approved Gardasil in 2006 for girls to prevent HPV infection, the main cause of cervical cancer.

The FDA also approved a new vaccine for girls called Cervarix, similar to Gardasil. Gardasil has been available for more than two years, and Cervarix should be available later this year.

The CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for girls starting at age 11. But we're talking about sex and a vaccine, two topics sure to elicit uncivilized dialogue.

The sex vaccine

Some of the arguments against vaccinations are just silly. The main objection two years ago, still lingering today, is that the HPV vaccine encourages sexual promiscuity and that HPV could be avoided by postponing sex and remaining monogamous.

Well, hepatitis B is transmitted via blood — that is, primarily through sex, transfusions and needle-sharing — and babies get the HepB vaccine when they're about a month old. HepB vaccines likely aren't endorsing promiscuity and drug use among infants or teens.

And avoiding sex is a bit of a fairy tale. A whopping 80 percent of women are infected by HPV by the time they are 50, according to the CDC. Your daughter might remain chaste, but her future non-vaccinated husband has a good chance of infecting her with HPV.

But should you get your 11-year-old child vaccinated for a usually benign sexually transmitted disease that could lead to a largely preventable female cancer 20 to 40 years after infection?

Risk-benefit

While sex and morality shouldn't enter the HPV discussion, an important consideration is a vaccine's benefits versus risks.

Vaccines, in general, offer great benefit with little risk. The major success stories have been with polio and smallpox, the latter being responsible of hundreds of millions of deaths in the 20th century alone. Less deadly yet still menacing is measles, killing about 200,000 children annually, almost entirely in regions that don't vaccinate.

The balance shifts a bit with some newer vaccines, such as that for varicella, or chicken pox. In the United States in the early 1990s, before the introduction of the vaccines, there were about 4 million annual cases of chicken pox and only 100 deaths. I had it. You likely had it.

The HPV vaccine raises a similar question of benefit, particularly in America where the 4,000 annual deaths from cervical cancer are largely preventable with routine pap smears.

There are two ways to think about this. First, think globally. According to the World Health Organization, there are about a half million cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year and over a quarter million deaths. HPV is behind the vast majority of these cancers. Admittedly most of these deaths are in poor countries where women aren't getting pap smears, but reducing the world burden of HPV is a noble cause.

Next, consider that cervical cancer isn't the only bad news. The virus family causes cervical dysplasia, abnormal growths on the cervix, often the cancerous precursor. This affects hundreds of thousands of women annually, according to a Planned Parenthood study, and treatment can be painful and expensive. HPV is also associated with vaginal, penile, anal and other genital cancers, however rare.

Doctors divided

Some doctors, though, aren't ready to give the HPV vaccine to their daughters or sons. In August, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an editorial questioning the benefits versus the risks. The risks are still anecdotal: According to the CDC, 25 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed in the United States, and there have been several hundred reports of serious adverse effects, including 32 deaths.

Yet the reports came through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). These are from regular folks who say they or their child got a vaccine and something bad happened. That doesn't mean there's a connection.

For example, as published in this month's issue of International Journal of Gynecological Cancer, a systematic review of six large HPV studies with nearly 50,000 women revealed seven deaths. But death came in the form of traffic accidents, overdoses and a pulmonary embolism. The placebo groups had similar deaths. It is likely these tragic deaths reported through VAERS are unrelated to the vaccine or occurred in women who had known risk factors.

Nevertheless, the JAMA editorial didn't have a definitive answer, yes or no, whether the vaccine is worth it. That means anyone with a teenager has a tough decision to make.

* * *

Would you consent to give this vaccine to your pre-teen or teenage daughter?  What about your son?

Are you concerned about the risks of this vaccine?  Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

 





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by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Mergath
by Silver Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:14 AM

Of course.  I plan to get this for my daughter as soon as she's old enough.  I'd prefer that she wait to have sex until she's much older and in a loving, committed relationship, but I'm not an idiot.  I'm not going to jeopardize her health because of some delusional idea that I'll have total control over her life when she's a teen due to my awesomeness as a mother.  You can talk your child's ear off about waiting to have sex, but once those hormones hit, there's not much you can do, short of locking them in a closet.

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NearSeattleMom
by Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 2:59 AM

I did not have my daughter vaccinated with the HepB vaccine as a baby and I will not have her vaccinated with this either. 

Why would I vaccinate her against a disease that is caused by behavior and behavior alone?  I'm not raising her to being sexually active before marriage.  If she does become sexually active before marriage, we'll see.

And yes, I do think I can discourage her from having sex before marriage.

Frankly, I think it's so sad that so many women and men become sexually active before marriage.  I think sexual immorality is the cause of a lot of societal and health problems in this country.

Mergath
by Silver Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 3:57 AM

Yes, because it makes so much more sense to protect her after it's too late. *rolls eyes*

Even if she does wait until marriage, you don't know that her husband won't have HPV.  Or she could be raped, and be infected then.  Do you want her to end up with cervical cancer?  

Quoting NearSeattleMom:

I did not have my daughter vaccinated with the HepB vaccine as a baby and I will not have her vaccinated with this either. 

Why would I vaccinate her against a disease that is caused by behavior and behavior alone?  I'm not raising her to being sexually active before marriage.  If she does become sexually active before marriage, we'll see.

And yes, I do think I can discourage her from having sex before marriage.

Frankly, I think it's so sad that so many women and men become sexually active before marriage.  I think sexual immorality is the cause of a lot of societal and health problems in this country.


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marusia1052
by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 4:02 AM

I plan on vaccinating my child(ren) as soon as able too...I've seen the effects of cervical cancer, and it runs rampant. Definitely not something I'd want to wait and hear, "Hey mom, I'm at the doc and he says I need a biopsy." I'd rather be safe and protect her for when she is older.

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babie113
by Silver Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 4:13 AM

yes i would

corsetedwife
by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 5:26 AM

My 14 year old is vaccinated and so will my other daughters.  I do this because I love them and I can actually prevent them to get cancer.  I have genetically induced cervical cancer.  If I can prevent my child from getting cancer then I will.

For me this isn't about my girls having premarital sex.  It is about them existing in this world where horrible things happen like premarital sex, rape, and infidelity in marriages.  I trust my daughter but I do not trust others. 

My daughter got her vaccine the same day she got her meningitis vaccine.  She wasn't informed what the vaccine was for completely.  She was told it was to prevent cervical cancer is all.  Nothing about sex.  It wasn't necessary.

 

SWasson
by Bronze Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 7:36 AM

Hell, yes!  I would gladly vaccinate her against all the bad things in life.

aidansmommy961
by Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 7:42 AM


Quoting NearSeattleMom:

I did not have my daughter vaccinated with the HepB vaccine as a baby and I will not have her vaccinated with this either. 

Why would I vaccinate her against a disease that is caused by behavior and behavior alone?  I'm not raising her to being sexually active before marriage.  If she does become sexually active before marriage, we'll see.

And yes, I do think I can discourage her from having sex before marriage.

Frankly, I think it's so sad that so many women and men become sexually active before marriage.  I think sexual immorality is the cause of a lot of societal and health problems in this country.

#1 - To quote a friend, "it's not premarital sex if you don't get married"

#2 - Your idea and someone else's idea of "sexual immorality" might not be the same thing. Doesn't mean you're right, doesn't mean they are right.

home-sweet-home
by Silver Member on Oct. 29, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Would you consent to give this vaccine to your pre-teen or teenage daughter?  What about your son?

No way. There have been too many side effects to this vaccine, including deaths. It only protects against a few strains of the HPV. It is not worth it.

Now my two girls from Russia will be forced to take this to get into the country after the adoption. I am not happy about this at all. I am worried for thier safety. I just have to pray that God will protect them from it.

 

Are you concerned about the risks of this vaccine?  Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Yes, I am very concerned and to me the benefits do not outweigh the risks.


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Cynthje
by on Oct. 29, 2009 at 9:52 AM

No i would not give this vaccine to my daughter, it was rushed on the market and it has many side effects. Hep B was mentioned in the article: my children did  not get that one either, they will also never get  a flu shot, chicken pox or rota virus shot. The other ones i am undecided on for now.

 Throughout the world, there exists a group of women who feel mightily drawn to giving care to women in childbirth. At the same time maternal and independent, responsive to a mother's needs, yet accepting full responsibility as her attendant; such women are natural midwives. Without the presence and acceptance of the midwife, obstetrics becomes aggressive, technical, and inhuman.

Professor G.J. Kloosterman, Chief of OB/GYN, Univ. of Amsterdam

 


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