Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cancer Vaccine

Vaccinating our children continues to stir some of the most heated debates between parents in this country. I've touched on this issue before, sparking some interesting comments on both childhood and adolescent vaccines.

This morning, NPR aired a terrific report on one of the newest vaccines, Gardasil, the vaccine that protects girls against cervical cancer caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. It's the first vaccine that protects against cancer, and yet millions of parents are opting out of the course of shots for their daughters. In fact, according to NPR, "as of 2007, just one in five girls under the age of 18 had received" this vaccine.

For some, it seems the recommended age for vaccination is a factor. The CDC advises parents to vaccinate their 11-12 year-old daughters, the FDA recommends vaccinating 9 year-olds. The point, experts assert, is to vaccinate before the girl becomes sexually active. But for many mothers--like the ones interviewed for the NPR report--9, 10, or 11 years old is simply too young to vaccinate against complications brought on by a sexually transmitted disease.

Other parents are unsure of the safety of this new vaccine. As the NPR report points out, "since 2006, there have been 21 HPV-vaccine-related deaths reported to the CDC. The reports require no absolute proof of a link, only a suspicion of one." And for many mothers, suspicion is enough to tip the scale.

Interestingly, these issues are causing less concern in other countries, like the U.K. NPR reports that "in Great Britain, a survey shows that up to 70 percent of parents would agree to have their young adolescent daughters get the vaccine against cervical cancer." The speculation is that the government run health care system making this--and other vaccines--available at no additional cost puts this vaccine in reach of many who could not otherwise afford it. In the U.S., a full course of the vaccine will cost about $400.

What's your opinion on this particular vaccine, Mamas? Post a comment and don't miss my new poll in the right hand column.

1 comment:

Stace said...

I am 22 .. And i had this vaccine a month ago. I still have one needle left! I am unsure if everything in Australia is the same as over there, but I don't think that it is available to 9 year olds here. I would still protect my child with it, i think. Although, i think it all depended on the child. And another factor is, here, it is free for us, until december this year. From then on, its $400. So money is an issue for me - in regards to myself - i'd rather be safe by having the vaccination, than sorry. I also took into account the history of cancer that is in my family. And so far for me, my out look doesn't look so great. At least now i can be protected from at least ONE of the many cancer's out there!