By Jeff Girod
A new study found that a vaccine against the human papillomavirus— better known as HPV—cut infections in teen girls by half.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and can cause serious health problems including cervical, anal, throat, vaginal, vulvar and even penile cancers. (If you’ve got a daughter with penile cancer, you’ve got bigger problems than HPV.)
If you read this column regularly, you’ve seen me rant about everything from the Lakers to a manned mission to Mars. So what I am doing arguing for the health of an eight-grade girl’s cervix? Because it’s the right thing to do. And it’s so simple.
Give your kids—girls and boys—the HPV vaccine and you significantly reduce their risk for cancer.
“For every year we delay in doing so, another 4,400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a recent press release.
In other words, give your kids a shot and they’ll have one. It’s that easy.
Other countries, including Rwanda, have higher HPV vaccination rates than the U.S. Everyone from leading scientists to your local doctor say the HPV vaccine works. So why are so few people getting their kids vaccinated?
Even with irrefutable proof that—hey lookie there!—modern medicine works—and the HPV vaccination may reduce cervical cancer deaths by two-thirds, millions of parents are reluctant to get their kids vaccinated. Only about a third of U.S. teen girls ages 13 to 17 have had the full series of shots that prevent HPV infection, according to Frieden.
“The report should be a wake-up call to our nation to protect the next generation by increasing HPV vaccination rates,” Frieden said.
Critics said it could lead to promiscuity. (A recent study by Kaiser Permanente says it doesn’t.) Rep. Michele Bachman called the vaccine “dangerous” and once even said it caused “mental retardation.” (Unfortunately there’s still no vaccine for Bachmann’s kind of stupid.)
“These are striking results because we can protect the next generation of adolescents and girls against cancer,” Frieden said.
This isn’t about religion or morality. It’s about science and medicine and, most importantly, it’s about math. HPV vaccine reduces infections by 56 percent. HPVs cause 19,000 cancers in women and 8,000 cancers in men every year, according to the CDC.
This is what the vaccine doesn’t do: It doesn’t instantly turn your kids into tiny sex machines. Vaccine or no vaccine, anyone going through puberty is only slightly less hormonally combustible than a U.S. Senator.
You want your child to be raised with certain values? Talk to them. It’s called parenting.
But don’t put their lives at risk because you’re afraid to discuss S-E-X. No vaccine is going to prevent your kids from having premarital sex—unless it’s a tranquilizer dart and you fire it out of an elephant gun.
Prove your point with something other than the life of a child. If it was your own life at risk, would you be such a martyr? If it was so black and white — get the shot and live, or don’t and someone’s penis falls off—even I would sleep with Michelle Bachman.
As a society, why are we so afraid of sex? If the HPV vaccine was for polio or even a shot that made our kids thinner or to have silkier hair like Justin Beiber’s, parents would line up around the block.
So why instead of one possibly uncomfortable discussion about sex, is it better for us to completely ignore our children’s sexuality? Hey, while we’re at it, why not completely ignore our own!
Make sure to remind your children that their parents are nothing more than genderless platonic roommates. And that on the day they were born, a stork flew in through a hospital window carrying a pink or blue bassinet. All of it’s G-rated with no threat of fluids being exchanged and none of that scary HPV!
Be sure to shield your kids’ precious widdle eyes from every death, war, famine, fear, failure, threat, rejection or disappointment. Yes, just let your kids lead oblivious sugar-coated lives full of tooth fairies, participant trophies and Justin Beiber CDs.
Jeesh, talk about retarded.
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.