Question: Should I be considering the Gardasil vaccine for my daughters? I don’t want to send the wrong message.
Answer: It’s important for parents to openly discuss human sexuality with their children in an age-appropriate manner. Gardasil is a preventive vaccine against human papilloma virus, or HPV, which is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), and it’s recommended for boys and girls. The Gardasil is not a signal to your kids that it’s OK to become sexually active. It’s a sign that you care about their long-term health.
Several types of HPV can cause cervical warts or cervical cancer. Nearly 75 percent of all men and women will become infected with HPV in their life-time, most often during their first two to three years of sexual contract. The Gardasil vaccine has proved effective against the four most common strains of HPV, reducing the risk of women developing cervical cancer by 75 percent, and cervical warts by 90 percent.
Since men and women can be infected, carriers can transmit the virus to their partners. While it’s important to practice safe sex, condoms are only partially effective in preventing the spread of the virus, and symptoms not usually visible. Women are screened through pap smears, but there is no effective screening test for men. If they are infected, they are putting their partners at risk.
The goal is to vaccinate young people before they become sexually active. The best age to vaccinate is around age 11-12 in boys and girls, but it can also benefit young people ages 9-26. If you’re a parent, be sure to ask your family doctor about the Gardasil vaccine.