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No one seems to know for sure.
Will I give it to my 9 year old daughter?
No. I plan to wait at least until she’s 11 or 12. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have some more information.
The vaccine is designed to prevent infection from the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus that causes cervical cancer. To be most effective, it should be given to girls before they have sex and may be exposed to the virus. The vaccine is routinely recommended for 11 and 12 year old girls, but can be given as early as age 9. It is also recommended for girls and women age 13 through 26 who have not yet been vaccinated or completed the vaccine series.
While cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer among women worldwide and the third-most fatal, causing 290,000 deaths a year, the disease is rare in the United States, where regular screening for adult women catches most precancerous cases. About 3,700 American women die of cervical cancer every year.
The HPV vaccine doesn’t guarantee that a woman won’t get cervical cancer or warts, but it protects against the two most common viral strains, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancer worldwide.
Some doctors are concerned about the vaccine’s safety because long-term side effects of the vaccine are unknown. In addition, no one knows for sure for how long the vaccine - which requires three shots - is effective. It seems to be effective for at least five years.
Research also hasn’t considered what effect the vaccine has on the remaining 13 strains of HPV that also cause cervical cancer. It’s possible that the remaining strains may fill the void left if the two most common strains are wiped out entirely, so that the vaccine might not make any difference on overall cervical cancer rates.
While the vaccine is considered safe, some serious side effects have been reported, including a severe allergic response (anaphylaxis); neurological conditions, such as paralysis, weakness and brain swelling; and death: 29 fatalities were reported in two years.
The National Vaccine Information Center, a private vaccine safety group, compared Gardasil adverse events to another vaccine, one also given to young people, but for meningitis. Gardasil had three times the number of Emergency Room visits - more than 5,000. Reports of side effects were up to 30 times higher with Gardasil.
The vaccine’s manufacturer, Merck, the FDA and the CDC question the value of the new analysis. They say they continue to review the data, maintain that Gardasil is safe and effective, and claim that its benefits outweigh the risks.
The CDC says on its website that as of December 31, 2008, more than 23 million doses of Gardasil were distributed in the United States. There were 11,916 reports of adverse events following Gardasil vaccination in the United States. Of these reports, 94% were reports of events considered to be non-serious, and 6% were reports of events considered to be serious.
The CDC concludes, “Based on all of the information we have today, CDC continues to recommend Gardasil vaccination for the prevention of 4 types of HPV. As with all approved vaccines, CDC and FDA will continue to closely monitor the safety of Gardasil. Any problems detected with this vaccine will be reported to health officials, healthcare providers, and the public, and needed action will be taken to ensure the public’s health and safety.”
What is your position on the HPV vaccine?
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