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Answers from our Priests for Life Medical Team

Submitted by: M. on  4/16/2014
Answered by: Matthew P. Harrison, M.D.
Topic: Gardasil vaccine
Can you please give me a resource for reading un-biased information about the Gardasil vaccine? My daughter wants to get the vaccine and I'm desperately trying to convince her she doesn't need it and it may have long term negative effects.
Thank you for your question. I love it when parents are this involved helping your children make medical decisions.  When thinking about Gardasil, or the HPV vaccine, we need to remember that no medication in itself is intrinsically evil.  For example, RU-486 was originally developed as a medication that might help breast cancer patients. Methotrexate is a medication used for chemotherapy to help cancer patients but is also used for abortions of ectopic pregnancies.  So the evil is not in the chemical itself, it is rather in the way that the chemical or medication is used.
The HPV vaccine is a vaccine that is produced from non-infectious virus like particles that protect against four different strains of human papilloma virus. These strains are responsible for some of the cases of cervical cancer and genital warts.  It is a three shot series and it is been indicated by the FDA for girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 26.  I've been asked about this vaccine many times and there are several important things to think about when considering getting the vaccine.
Number one: this is the only known vaccine that protects against cancer.
Number two: in order to be effective the vaccine must be given between the ages of 9 and 26 with the peak in response obtained at ages 11 and 12.
Number three: overall this is been a generally safe and effective vaccine but there have been cases of injury and even death mostly related to clots. Also this vaccine is not made with mercury, aborted fetal cell lines, and is not denounced by the Vatican, which is of concern to many in regards to vaccines. Most people are concerned with whether it might encourage their children to become promiscuous. They also wonder why the vaccine is given to children between the ages of 9 and 18 before they're actually adults. And most parents certainly plan and hope that their children will not catch any diseases from premarital relationships.  Several things to remember include that the immune response to this particular vaccine is at its height at the age of 11 or 12, so a child can build up an immune response much higher at an early age that hopefully will last until later years. After the age of 26 the test subjects did not produce significant immunity to the vaccine and therefore it was not useful. I'm certain that in the future they will come out with vaccines that will produce a better response in older subjects. We should also remember that even if our own children are sexually pure at the time of marriage there's always the horrible possibility of rape and there's always the possibility that their future spouse could be a redeemed and forgiven person that led a previous life or had a previous relationship with someone where the previous partner had given them HPV. Remember that this is not a contraceptive and it is not a barrier method that prevents the spread of other sexual diseases. So we see this vaccine would formally fall under one's own conscience as to whether or not to receive. I would absolutely recommend this in patients that are sexually active especially with multiple partners. I hope this helps and if you have more questions. Please feel free to ask. Thank you.

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