Why I Gave My Own Kids the HPV Vaccine
As a mother of 4 children in addition to a pediatrician, I understand the worry about what we expose our kids to. From the foods they eat to the toys they play with, we want only the best, safest, healthiest things for the most cherished gifts in our lives.
I think about what I want for my own children’s future when counseling parents about HPV vaccination. Despite the differences that make us all unique families, the one thing we all have in common is the desire to see our kids develop into happy and healthy adults. And a critical component to helping our kids achieve their dreams is giving them the immunizations necessary to prevent life threatening vaccine preventable disease. Make no mistake about it. Every one of our kids is at risk for death and severe disability from HPV associated cancer. 80% of unvaccinated adults have HPV infection. And HPV is the cause of almost all cases of cervical and oral and throat cancers. These cancers kill. And when they don’t, they maim. Young women with cervical cancer must have their cervix removed to save their lives. No cervix means no babies for your daughter. Oral and throat cancers are treated with radiation and surgery often involving the voice box. This frequently leads to permanent loss of the ability to speak. If you survive the cancer at all. Regardless of religious or political affiliation or cultural and racial background, regardless of age, education or socio-economic status,
I am absolutely certain that no parent wants that future for his or her child.
So ultimately the decision for most of us comes down to vaccine safety. If we can be assured that prevention of such atrocities is safe, of course we would choose to protect our children from these horrible and deadly diseases. We don’t hesitate to vaccinate our children for various forms of meningitis, as babies and again as teenagers, because we know non vaccination can result in loss of limbs, brain damage and death. And decades of experience with these vaccines have shown them to be exceptionally safe, with lifesaving benefits far outweighing the risk of minor annoyances like pain and swelling at the injection site. The safety data for HPV is equally as good as that for the meningitis vaccines. That’s worth repeating. The HPV vaccine is one of the safest vaccines ever produced. And it has been in use both in the US and in Europe for decades so long term outcomes is well studied.
Why is this so different than what you have heard? Consider your source of information when making your decision about vaccinating your own children. The media does not use scientific evidence based study to evaluate risks and benefits of medical procedures. The medical literature is very clear about the safety profile of this vaccine. Trust your pediatrician in his or her recommendation not only to vaccinate your sons and daughters but in their decision to vaccinate their own children. Together we can work to provide a happy, healthy future for all our children. Because what parent doesn’t want that?
Kate Krueck MD
Pediatric Associates, Inc.