Why every girl needs to get the HPV vaccine
Although the vaccine to protect young women from the human papillomavirus (HPV) has been available for years, very few girls are getting it. Since the HPV disease is transferred through sexual contact (it's a sexually-transmitted infection, after all), many parents are not letting their girls get it for fear that it will be an invitation for their young daughters to have sex.
Yes, I get that rationale but the truth of the matter is that ALL girls need to start getting this vaccine that can ultimately prevent cervical cancer. The key is understanding why your daughters (and even sons) need the shot and how to talk to them about it.
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The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has just announced that all European young women should get the vaccine to protect themselves from HPV, according to Jezebel.com. Since it's cost-effective AND going to potentially save your child's life (or at least reproductive system), it's a good idea for all girls in the U.S. to get it, too.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is saying that HPV vaccination rates are low among young women. Even worse, "poor and minority teen girls who start the three-dose HPV series have lower rates of finishing it", they said in a release. So, what's going on, moms? With cervical cancer being the second most common cancer in women worldwide, young girls across the country really NEED to be getting this vaccine.
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The question, then, is how to talk to your daughter about the HPV vaccine. Our Editor-in-Chief, Johanna Torres, explains how she went about it:
It was a bit of a struggle for me to have my daughter get Guardasil back about a year or two ago when she was 14 or 15 as I was afraid I'd be sending her the wrong message (typical overprotective Latina mom!!), but did so and made it clear that the vaccine was by no means green light for her to have sex. This opened to a great conversation with her about sex, taking care of your body and making the right, educated decisions for herself (a blessing in disguise that came from doing something I knew needed to be done!). She of course HATED it as she hates needles—and come on, what teenager really enjoys getting the sex talk AGAIN from mom—but it was actually a great mom-daughter moment for us (right at the doctor's office!).
I know it's not easy, but it's best to approach it as just another measure of protection: it's a health precaution and NOT an invitation to have sex. Have that conversation and make this very clear, but do have it. I know it's not going to be easy but if you can prevent your daughter from ever getting cervical cancer, isn't it worth it?
Are you planning to get the HPV vaccine for your daughter? Is that a difficult conversation to have? Share with us in the comments below!
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