Did you know that 9 year-olds are getting vaccines to protect them from STDs? I did not.
The vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix are intended to stop the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted sexually and can cause cervical cancer. HPV infects 20 million people in the United States. The vaccines are designed to be administered to tweens, three shots over a six-month period.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends Gardasil be given to both boys and girls, which is a relatively new development.
I was shocked when a friend mentioned that her pediatrician administers the vaccine at age 9. The CDC says it may be given as young as 9 and is recommended for ages 11-12, before the start of sexual activity. I had thought it was more for teens. I’m passing this info along so that you are not shocked, either, and can prepare for this decision, which apparently is coming faster that I realized.
- You can find the information sheet published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Gardasil here.
- Check out your state’s legislation on the issue here. As of January 2012, 8 states have proposed HPV related legislation for the 2011-2012 sessions. (While some states are promoting the vaccine, the Virginia House of Delegates voted to repeal the law requiring girls to receive the HPV vaccine before entering the sixth grade. )
The HPV vaccine is loaded with controversy, for some because they oppose vaccines as a whole, and this vaccine in particular because HPV is sexually transmitted. The idea of a sexually active 9 year-old makes me throw up in my mouth.
I see arguments for both sides in favor of and opposing the vaccine. Yes, I want to protect my daughter from cancer. No, I don’t think she’s ready for a discussion of STDs at age 9. I want more information on long-term studies of the vaccine. I haven’t talked with my child’s doctor about it yet, and will wait to make up my mind until I have done so. But my tween certainly won't be receiving it before it is recommended, so at least 11 or 12, and possibly even after that, if at all.
I am still educating myself and learning about it. Tell me your thoughts below in the comments. What you think is best for your tween and your family? Would you have your 9 year-old receive it? Would you wait until age 12? Would you do it at all?