Should girls get the HPV vaccine? The controversy surrounding whether children as young as ten should be given the HPV vaccine has been intense. Though there has been dissension among politicians about the safety and morality issues surrounding it, it remains fundamentally a parental choice and belief issue. Many doctors tell us that there is nothing wrong with giving children vaccines of any kind, and go so far as to suggest it is wrong not to do so. I disagree. The following stems from the core of my beliefs about how to approach preventative medicine, and as a holistic health care practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I understand that this is a controversial topic, and my opinion is somewhat of an extreme stance that may be viewed as very liberal (or conservative, depending on your point of view). You may not agree with me, and in the end, your well-informed and thoughtful choice is the best one for your family.
Many people get the flu vaccine every year to avoid the newest, scariest strain of influenza, a disease which is extremely contagious and can be fatal. But many people don’t get the flu vaccine. They still come in contact with people who have the virus, they touch doorknobs and breathe the infected air on subways. But if they are concerned about preventing illnes, they continue healthy eating habits which include whole foods that naturally fight illness, and drink plenty of water to provide their cells with their natural power to regenerate and to rectify the various toxins and foreign substances they may come in contact with during the day. They get adequate sleep, they exercise and keep a watch on their stress levels, and treat their bodies with the attention it deserves for being the amazing machine it is. And they don’t get the flu.
Traditional Chinese medicine has been treating infectious diseases successfully and completely naturally for thousands of years, both preventatively and during illnesses, before we could see bacteria and viruses microscopically. Chinese medicine enhances immunity and supports the clearing of toxins. Using acupuncture and herbs as preventative medicine can build strength in the body to avoid disease at a fundamental level. Herbal therapies can be extremely beneficial in boosting the immune system to avoid infection and treat the root causes of disease, helping the body rid itself naturally of infection.
Now, true, cervical cancer, which is linked to the Human Papillomavirus and which the vaccine is proposed to guard against, is not comparable to the flu, by any means. As well, one may argue that the risks of contracting HPV far outweigh the side effects from the pharmaceuticual vaccine. But the fact is, there are ways of being a healthy kid who grows into a health-conscious sexual teenager and a healthy, sexual adult and of NOT contracting HPV, and should it be contracted, of naturally healing well before anything relating to cancer becomes an issue.
How does a vaccine work? Kind of like this: A vaccine basically introduces a little pocket of pathogen into the body that the body’s immune system then attempts to process. This pocket, which can include agents like aluminum, cow tissue, and synthetic chemicals to increase the vaccine’s effectiveness, becomes a source of toxicity that the body just squirrels away and keeps like litter under your car seat. Though the levels of these toxins have not been proven to be harmful the levels of these toxins in vaccines has actually not been studied to show that they are SAFE. Kids may be developing fevers, asthma, acne and other immune system responses as they develop because their bodies are being required to continually focus energy on getting rid of unnatural debris.
Now, back to the question, “Should girls or boys get the HPV vaccine?” Consider these points:
1. The virus is not the same as cancer. Studies have shown that incidence of pre-cancerous lesions IS reduced by the HPV vaccine, BUT the conclusion that the risk of cancer itself is effectively reduced is erroneous, and the assumption that the vaccine will continue to have effect on that risk over the course of years or decades is also not yet proven.
2. HPV can clear up just like other viruses. In most women, cervical HPV infection clears on its own within two years of detection. Most of the time your body will suppress the virus down to undetectable levels within six to twelve months. This can be the case for most healthy adults who take care of their bodies mindfully, and the younger the body, the more capable it is of naturally clearing viruses.
3. Only two of the virus strains are covered by the vaccine. The current vaccines are designed to protect against certain strains of the virus, namely, types 16 and 18, but not other strains. This is what the FDA says: “HPV types 16 and 18 are thought to be responsible for more than 50% of cervical cancer, but more than 15 different types of HPV are considered to be “oncogenic” and are associated with development of cervical cancer.” The vaccine can form a false sense of security against cancer-causing strains of the virus.
4. Evidence shows that the HPV vaccine does not protect against cancer. The directors of SaneVax, Inc. (a non-profit research organization dedicated to providing accurate information for consumers) addresses the concern that the FDA has not yet considered with adequate research the possibility that other strains of the virus besides the ones the vaccine is designed to protect against may become stronger and replace the strains protected against at present. She writes: “SaneVax, Inc. believes that there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that Gardasil or Cervarix effectively protects against cervical cancer.
5. The effects remain untested over the long-term. The HPV vaccine has only been on the market since 2006. Five years is too little time to confidently assess the effects or risks the HPV vaccine may have, positive or negative. Using natural preventative medicine and taking care with your sex life are key. Also, providing clear information and encouragement to the practice of healthy sexuality by your young son or daughter will never have negative efects, however, a vaccination can never be undone.
6. Always know your body. Knowledge about your own body can be your best defense. Regular pelvic exams, which require no pharmaceuticals, are an effective way to stay on top of the state of your cervix. It’s recommended that you get a PAP once a year to detect high-risk strains of HPV. If your PAP is abnormal, your doctor will most likely recommend a test every 6 months to check for abnormal cell changes which warn of possible pre-cancerous cells. And remember, in most women, cervical HPV infection clears on its own wthin two years of detection.
7. Keep politics out of it. Lastly, I will take a political stance: mandating through legislature that the HPV vaccine is a requirement for young women is wrong. Parents should be allowed to make the choice to vaccinate or not according to the results of their own research, opinions and beliefs. Rick Perry’s executive order in Texas requiring every girl to receive the Gardasil vaccine before entering the sixth grade is an example.
I do not make the claim that the HPV virus, cervical cancer and other types of cancer linked to the virus are not dangerous health concerns. They are, and the prevalence of the dangers are real. But I believe in an approach to preventative health care that does not involve the injection of unnecessary pharmaceuticals into the body which can cause illness while it is attempting to prevent it. I always welcome discussion, questions and opinions about this topic and others. Please don’t hesitate to continue gathering your own research and making informed decisions about your health.