Girls and Gardasil: the protection game

MercatorNet 22 Oct 09

Deirdre Fleming is a former Science Teacher, currently pursuing postgraduate studies in Public Health at Curtin University, Perth, Australia. A mother and public health student offers ten reasons not to vaccinate children against a sexually transmitted disease.

Imagine this. You are the parent of an eleven year old daughter. Early in the school year you receive a consent form for the standard Year 7 immunisations: Hepatitis B, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Chickenpox and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Do you just tick all the boxes, or do you spend time considering the implications of your decision? The last one on the list deserves special attention. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, a point that the consent form neglects to mention. It merely states, “HPV is the name for a group of viruses that cause skin warts, genital warts and some cancers.” The arguments for and against this particular immunisation are rarely provided by schools, yet parents, for the sake of their children, need to consider carefully the messages they are conveying by agreeing to this vaccine.