Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I want Suzi to be one less

One less little girl to suffer the side effects of a largely untested and unnecessary vaccine.

I have had a bee in my bonnet over Gardasil since its debut. Why on earth would I want to have my daughter vaccinated for a few types of one disease, a teensy fraction of the horrors one can contract while having unprotected sex?

Merck itself admits: "GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone, and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer... GARDASIL will not protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV."

To be exact, Gardasil does not protect against 30% of the types of HPV which cause cervical cancer. Armed with this knowledge, who would still want to get the vaccine and have unprotected sex with questionable partners? I am unable to find exact stats, but I would personally feel much safer using a condom. When used correctly, condoms are fairly reliable protection--although they still leave a woman partially susceptible, because HPV can be spread to and from peripheral areas which are left uncovered.

Then there are the other things for which you are at risk: gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and herpes, to name a few. And don't forget about pregnancy. I know some of you are wondering what kind of an idiot would think this vaccine could serve as birth control. The answer is not an idiot, but a teenager. (These are some of the same kids who don't believe oral sex qualifies as sex.) My mother-in-law told me about a friend whose daughter had been told by one of her peers about the virtues of the vaccine--which in her warped perception included birth control. I hope this girl was an exception; however, perceived protection against pregnancy is not the only false sense of security encouraged by the vaccine.

As if all this weren't enough, this shot is hurting girls. They don't go over this in the saccharine-sweet commercial in which the mother-daughter pairs discuss their reasons for vaccinating while painting one another's toenails. One 18-year-old, Amanda, was a varsity athlete until she received her first dose. She developed pain at her injection site, which traveled to the rest of her body. She is now chronically ill and must take morphine just to get through the pain. There are others, although to be fair, it is not clear in all the cases that Gardasil caused the illness. The mere shadow of a chance is enough for me.

I cannot fathom taking my daughter to get a shot which will leave her 30% susceptible to cancer-causing HPV and will put her at risks the likes of which we may not even know yet. Furthermore, I think vaccinating a girl sends the message that we, as a society and as parents, expect her to be promiscuous. If we didn't, why would we vaccinate her at all? When I was a teenager my mother explained to me that she didn't want me to have sex before marriage, but if I thought I might I should come tell her so she could help me take necessary precautions. To me, there is a huge difference between that and vaccinating all our girls for an STD when some are barely old enough to know what sex is. My mom's approach sent the message that she didn't expect that kind of behavior from me in the first place.

So what are we trying to do here? Are they going to continue to develop vaccines until they have every imaginable STD covered (if not eradicated), at which point we all might as well go at it like rabbits? Have we become feminists to the point we believe a girl should be able to have as much sex as she wants without any fear of repercussions? On a spiritual level, that Brave New World vision doesn't work for me. Sex isn't something teenagers should be having for a myriad of reasons, and all the research in the world can't create a vaccine to protect them from the emotional damage it can cause.

I am so glad that Jordan and I were able to give one another the gift of knowing without a doubt that our relationship would never be plagued with an STD (not to mention the emotional baggage that may have come from previous partners). It means even more to me now as a mother, because several venereal diseases can cause harm to a baby during pregnancy and childbirth. I wish every woman could have the peace of mind I have, but they aren't going to find it in a syringe.


Emily said...

Amen, sister! Every time I go in for my yearly physical, the nurse bugs me about getting the vaccine. I always decline, but it gets annoying hearing it over and over. I guess it's hard for some people these days to believe that two people can be exclusive to each other (no other partners, either before or currently). One ob-gyn even had the gall to say to me "what if you're raped? what if you go through a divorce?" What kind of doctor uses scare tactics like that? I get irritated just thinking about it.

Kristin said...

This vaccine irks me, too. It is assumed that all teenagers have sex and that all of them need to be "protected" before they begin. The recommended age for this vaccine is ages 11-12!!!

Beth said...

Yeah, we're not going anywhere near that vaccine either. You always have conversation sparking posts :-)

We hope to come to baby wearing in a few weeks. I was going to bring her to the last one....but alas...that was right after she had been running a fever and had a virus when we got back from the beach. I didn't think you gals would appreciate me bringing that to share! :-)

Emily said...

I don't know if you've seen it, but here is the story printed in the New York Times:

Vicky said...

Good post Jenny! I am glad you decided to post on this subject. I like your reference to going at it like rabbits. LOL Serious subject, but that made me laugh! :)

Rissa said...

This is really well written and thought-provoking! I definitely agree with you. I want to say more but Jack just woke up from his nap and he is NOT happy! Mothering calls! ;)

Melissa said...

Good for you! My autism support group has been talking about the dangers of this vaccine for a while now. It is horrible that no one seems to care about the risk. We will not give this to our child. I love what you said about your mom not expecting you to do anything to need one anyway. I agree, teach them values and morales, but at nine, they have no risk for this at all. The FDA is trying to make this vaccine a mandate to enter school, another reason we homeschool.

GrandmaKathleen said...

Hi Jenny, You have a very informative blog on this drug Gardasil.
I subscribe to Health Sciences Institute (HSI)and they tell you what the doctors will not tell you and the drug companies. Today I was sent 2 articles, both of them about the dangers of this drug.

Hide Your Daughters: Worst Vaccine Bill Ever

Stop Right There

Your pediatrician is about to give your daughter a Gardasil vaccination - designed to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV), one of the causes of cervical cancer.

But before he does, he turns to you and says, "I should mention that thousands of CDC adverse event reports, which include paralysis and seizures, have been made in connection with this vaccine. Some of the girls receiving the vaccine required hospitalization. At least seven young women died suddenly shortly after receiving the vaccine, although in some cases the exact cause of death hasn't been determined.

"So…should we go ahead with it?"
Some states
(New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Virginia require the vaccine
for all girls entering the sixth grade be vaccinated and have made it mandatory, the article says that you can opt out and refuse to have your child vaccinated....