Well, now I know for sure what my answer will be when my almost 11-year-old daughter's pediatrician asks if we want the HPV vaccine at her next check-up: An emphatic "NO." I was leaning in that direction anyway, for various reasons (more on those in a minute), but the latest news on Gardisil pretty much sealed the deal -- and if you have a tween girl, it might do the same for you.
In a study of 900 girls and young women between the ages of 11 and 26 who received the HPV vaccine, it was the 11- to 12-year-old group who experienced the worst side effects, from pain, dizziness, bruising, and swelling at the injection site to (in rare cases) fainting. These symptoms generally showed up about two weeks after the vaccine was administered.
What bothers me about these findings isn't that any of the side effects are so horrific or life-threatening -- though of course it doesn't help that my daughter happens to be at the riskiest age. What bothers me is that researchers are still in the process of finding out what Gardisil is capable of doing to kids, but the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are acting like it's perfectly safe.
Maybe it is perfectly safe. Unfortunately, we don't know that yet. Unlike all of the other vaccines my kids have gotten so far, the HPV vaccine is new -- so new that it's impossible to tell at this point what the long-term "side effects" could be. And like I said, maybe there aren't any. But why should I allow my daughter to be a guinea pig?
Are you concerned about Gardisil's potential side effects?
Image via Adrian Clark/Flickr