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October 28, 2008

Missing link

I have a 6-month-old daughter and she will be vaccinated [for HPV] once she is old enough. I cannot imagine thinking that preserving her virginity or preserving some set of expectations about her sexual behavior would be more important to me than protecting her.

"Melissa," letter to "The Checkup" feature in the Washington Post Health section, October 28

I respect Melissa's concern for her daughter, but did it truly never occur to her that there might be some sort of connection between sexual standards and sexual health?

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Not to mention the fact that this vaccine only protects against 4 of the many strains of HPV. If our daughters are vaccinated, they may think they are immune to getting the virus (even if they are told otherwise--you know how stubborn teens are when they want something). What the medical field does not always do is to inform people of ALL sides, especially when they are pushing an agenda.


Just this very day I had a conversation with a mom at church on this very issue. She is looking for guidance from the church on whether to get this for her pre-teen daughters or not. She said that it only protects against about 5% of the viruses that cause HPV and she isn't comfortable with it. We were both concerned that long term effects aren't know. She doesn't want her girls to think that she is endorsing premarital sexual activity and yet understands that our culture puts great pressure on our young people to be sexually active and that one moment of bad judgement can have life long consequences. This seems like a hard issue without a clear cut answer. I would be interested to see what others think.


So the vaccine protects against 5% of the viruses that cause HPV and 0% of all other STDs. I guess I don't see much point.

If I wrap my leg in asbestos that means my whole body is fireproof, right?

Benjamen R. Meyer

Or think about the number of girls that have died due to the vaccine?

Which is worth more: teaching your daughter sexual responsibility, or risking their life on the chance they won't be responsible because you didn't do your job as a parent?

And, HPV is only a risk for the girls that have sex with more than one guy who has had sex with more than one girl (to my understanding). It's not HPV itself that is the problem - but the mixture of two or more strains together.

Also (to my understanding), killing HPV may be like killing the natural bacteria in your stomach - something that would have a high possibility of leading to your own death due to its function.


Just to clarify: Gardasil is directed at four strains of human papilloma virus (HPV): 6, 11, 16, and 18. HPV 16 and HPV 18 are together responsible for causing 70% of cervical cancer cases. HPV 6 and HPV 11 account for 90% of genital wart cases. I'm not sure where this "5%" figure is coming from but it's misleading.

Folks should not construe across-the-board support for using Gardasil from the above comments. But people should take the time to get the facts straight before passing on information.


Sorry about the 5% thing. I was repeating what someone said but should have checked for the actual number. Thanks for the information.

Gina Dalfonzo

Becky, you might be interested in Dr. Meg Meeker's take on the vaccine issue (ten paragraphs down):


I'm not 100 percent certain what I would do if I had daughters of my own, especially with the safety concerns about the vaccine, but I thought she did a pretty good job here of looking at the big picture and presenting a balanced view.


Thanks Gina. Dr. Meeker speaks from her wisdom on this confusing subject. I will give my friend the website.

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