Monday, September 03, 2007

And now... for something controversial...

I have a daughter. Thankfully she's one and not a teenager, or even close to it. (Though she does put on some spectacular teenager-worthy tantrums!) So I currently don't have to worry about the HPV vaccine.

That doesn't stop me from thinking about it though. I worry because it seems to have been pushed through so fast. It went from "available" to "we think it should be compulsory" pretty darn quick.

Like the mother of many girls, I hope my daughter makes good choices when it comes to matters of the heart (or, let's face it, of other body parts too) and I do intend to promote abstinance. But I speak very openly about sex and other topics with my kids because I don't want them to learn stories from their friends. I will also discuss methods of birth control and what they protect against (besides babies).

I don't see the HPV vaccine as something that undermines abstinance. I just see it as a vaccine that we don't know a lot about. I hope that in ten years that we haven't learned that it was really something horrible. I have family members who have been harmed by medications that doctors promoted as safe... until problems cropped up years later.

But reading this article brought something home for me:
Dr. Foley says she'd never fault someone who vetoes the vaccine because of her
trust in her child's lifestyle choices, but she adds, "Given the number of circumstances we cannot control in our children's lives, I think the vaccine is a good idea." Some choose to vaccinate, even if their child has pledged chastity until marriage and monogamy afterwards, because of what they can't guarantee:

That their child won't be forced into a sexual situation.
That their child's marriage will be lifelong and mutually monogamous.
That their daughter won't be sexually active.

Can I guarantee those things? Can I protect my daughter from ever being assaulted? Gosh, I wish I could say yes... but I have to face reality. Can I guarantee that my daughter's marraige will be lifelong and mutually monagamous? I pray for it... but I cannot guarantee it.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Having been affected by this virus (HPV) myself (infected when I was 15 most likely my first sexual encounter), and live daily with the thought my yearly examination may not be routine one of these times, I am all for a protection for these unforesseable possibilities, as a teen I made poor choices! I know this now,I did not know it then...and besides even if I did wouldn't happen to me!
To anyone pondering this vaccine, I say investigate, know what your dealing with, know the risks and pray that you daughter never has to have any medical situation to regret, with or with out the vaccine.

Serenity Now! said...

Thank you for sharing your experience!

The article did mention "Even though the vaccine is intended to be given before sexual activity of any kind occurs, women 26 and younger who have had previous partners, and even those who test positive for HPV, still can get the vaccine and receive benefit. They simply won't receive full immunity from the four strains the vaccine protects against."

I think my uncomfort level stems from it being legislated so soon after its introduction.

I'm sorry that you experienced the negative effects of your mistakes. I wish we could all be lucky to escape those...

Anette said...

Serenity now, I'm with you on the fast legislation. It's amazing that the chicken pox vaccine took years and years to be offered as mandatory but this one...well let's just say I do believe we sexualize our daughters way too young.
I have a fifteen year old who has not been immunized against HPV as of this writing but it is something we are still on the fence about.
Monogamy and purity are what we teach and follow but who can know what choices she might make? Today at fifteen she is waiting but will she still be waiting at eighteen? at twenty? I don't know.
I can't get my kid a vaccination against an STD simply because she may at some point be assaulted - that to me is the same as having her take the pill in case she gets raped - it's too much protection for the statistical chance.
Statistically she is more likely to suffer a major head injury than be assaulted but I don't make her wear a helmet to school.

Parenting has so many choices and so many angles and we may never be sure whether or not we made the right choice.