HPV is not OK

In Virginia, the news today includes a story about our governor signing into law a bill that will require sixth grade girls to be vaccinated against the virus that causes cervical cancer. Human papilloma virus (HPV) is sexually transmitted and it is this fact that makes people get all weird about this topic.

In case you’re one of the people flinching at this news, allow me to break it down further for you: it will help protect your daughter from cancer that could kill her. Simple enough?

My daughter is a fourth grader. When I first heard about the vaccine called Gardasil I made a mental note to ask her pediatrician about starting the series. I still have a few reservations, however and will reasonably delay the vaccination for another two years, hoping that more results will be available, ensuring this is a safe vaccination with no serious side effects.

The issue people are all wigged out about is the fact that the HPV virus is sexually transmitted, arguing that providing young girls this vaccine gives them the incorrect message that it’s OK or worse, safe to become sexually active. I’m not naive enough to believe my hopes and wishes for my daughter are enough to protect her. If there were a vaccine for HIV I’d be signing up for that as well. But a virus that leads to cancer? One we can avoid? Is this really a question?

I do still have some issues, however. The vaccination series is three shots at $150 each. I do not know what insurance will cover. My first thought on reading about Gov. Kaine signing off on this law was, Who’s going to pay for it? Who is going to make sure the underprivileged girls get vaccinated? Who is going to make sure they go not for one, but three successive doctor visits? Will Medicaid pick up this tab for those eligible? If it’s a law, doesn’t someone have to cover the cost for all? I think about the teenaged girls and young single women in their twenties and thirties — what about them? Do they qualify for the vaccine?

I applaud the media relations campaign surrounding this issue. The “One Less” campaign is getting some attention and hopefully will continue to provide information parents need in simple, easy to understand terms. It does a good job of explaining what the vaccine is, and is not; what it will, and will not prevent. Parents should also remember to share this information with their daughters so it’s clear to them why they’re getting this series of shots, and from what it is designed to protect them.

A member of our extended family has cervical cancer. She is young and unmarried. She will not be able to have children. It is a tragedy that with today’s advancements, could have been avoided.

I know what I want for my daughter. I also know what I don’t.


About marijean

I'm a public relations professional, social media consultant and work-at-home-mom living and working in Charlottesville, Va. I'm Marijean Jaggers and this is my blog.
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4 Responses to HPV is not OK

  1. Jennifer and Chris says:

    In my opinion you are missing the big picture here. Yes, this is a great medical advancement in the prevention of cervical cancer. Would I immunize my young daughter with this vaccine? Certainly. Do I think this means giving “permission” for any sexual behavior? No.

    However: should any government agency, state or federal, have the right to force people to do such a thing? Whether parents or forced to immunize or forced to sign a form “opting out,” the fact is they are being forced into doing something that should be a a matter of PERSONAL CHOICE AND RESPONSIBILITY. Every time laws like these are passed and people blindly and trustingly accept them as “the government caring about me” or them “doing the right thing,” we’re just another step closer to an environment in which the government tells you what you must and must not do–an environment in which you have no rights to individual choice and responsibility. Do you think the government should decide on whether or not you should be allowed to eat fettucini alfredo at the Olive Garden? Should they have the right to tell you not to drink 3 beers after work? Because this is essentially the same issue/territory.

  2. marijean says:

    I understand what you’re saying and the same argument has been applied to smoking bans. I think I’ve been more focused on the vaccine/no vaccine issue rather than the legal ramifications and you’re right, it is a law that infringes on personal rights and choice. Immunization requirements for children attending school have been in place for ages, however, so I think many will see this as another polio, hepatitus, etc. shot.

  3. Lisa says:

    I asked our family doctor about this months ago so I could get the series of shots scheduled for my 12 year old. I was told that we needed to wait – since the quantities were limited and high school and college age females would be first in line for the series of shots. I am soooo happy that we didn’t rush into this as it gave me time to think it through and do some reading on the drug and the studies done to bring it to market. My daughter will wait since we aren’t really big on being part of the actual test group for the pharmaceutical company.

    Anyone that thinks this is paranoia, do some research on DES and then make your decision what is best for your family and your children. I know I come across as paranoid but my viewpoint is based on personal experience with drugs deemed safe by the FDA.

  4. marijean says:

    Yes, and let us not forget Thalidomide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide

    I’m in the wait and see camp as well, but wonder how long is long enough?

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