Update on Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • The first year reach of this new vaccine is considered "good" by a CDC official.  Much controversy has swirled around this vaccine.  If you choose as a parent to give it to your child, some believe you are in a sense, recognizing that your child may be sexually active at a far earlier age than you would like to contemplate.  On the other hand, choose not to give it, and they may, if active sexually before you know about it, lose a window of opportunity to prevent a disease with a very poor track record of diagnosis until it is too late and possibly fatal.

     

    In general there seems to have been an increase in the percentage of teens receiving 2 other new vaccines - Menactra (new meningitis vaccine) and a booster shot of tetanus/diptheria/whooping cough (which we now know requires an additional booster to keep immunity in place).  So the cervical cancer vaccination rate of 25% among teens,  is pretty good, compared to the statistics of vaccination with these other 2 new vaccines.

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    Gardasil is recommended for girls age 12, so that protection prior to sexual activity is in place for the 4 HPV strains most likely to cause most cases of cervical cancer.  Some argue that the vaccine is only modestly effective and that its safety track record has not been adequately proven.  Many parents do not even want to think about their young teens being sexually active, so they are very resistant to the suggestion of vaccinating for a sexually-transmitted infection.  Consumer advocates bemoan its high price - $360 for 3 shots (not covered by insurance).

     

    I am sure the dialogue will continue, more facts thanks to ongoing studies will be released, and time itself will guide parents as to whether this is a good choice or not for their daughters.  What do you think??

Published On: October 10, 2008