My twin daughters are nearing the age of receiving the HPV vaccine in school this year, provided for free by Health Canada to grade seven students, to protect them from the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a commonly sexually transmitted infection and is a major cause of cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers. It is strongly encouraged for all youth to receive the vaccine if they will be sexually active in their teen or adult lives.
This is a new vaccine that didn't exist when I was a teenager and I know that so many friends have suffered from the news of having abnormal Pap smear results and pre-cancerous cells, caused by the HPV. Many times you have no idea you have HPV and often times it goes away on its own. More than 50 percent of Canadians will become infected with HPV in their lifetime. This causes a lot of stress and anxiety, and potentially fatal consequences, and now can be prevented or reduced through this vaccine.
Presently I have a close friend who is currently dealing with a cervical cancer diagnosis, making this decision an even trickier and controversial one in my mind, hitting so close to home. But why the controversy? Here is the dilemma: Some medical experts and people who've been immunized against HPV believe that the vaccine has caused severe adverse medical reactions, such as triggering autoimmune diseases and serious side effects. This is much like the well debated topic of the MMR vaccine causing autism in children. Health Canada claims that only 0.1% of the population will suffer a serious allergic reaction to the HPV vaccine.
Do the benefits outweigh the risks? As a health obsessed mom and clean living advocate I am really torn on using a vaccine to prevent this virus and also scared to death about the possible negative side effects that many caution about. The last thing I want to do is make a decision that could lead to a cancer diagnosis later on in life for any of my daughters. I am not a doctor and cannot advise you as a parent on what is best for your own children. You have to do your own homework and make your own informed decision on whether to vaccinate or not. For me for now, I am thinking of not signing the consent form just yet and perhaps to wait it out a couple of years to see what other medical research is presented. That's the best solution I can come up with for now.