Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is the FDA Playing Russian Roulette With My Princess?!

As a parent, there are so many choices to make regarding the health and safety of my children, and I find it very overwhelming. One such choice is whether or not to get the princess vaccinated with Gardasil when she is an adolescent. Gardasil was "fast-tracked" for Federal Drug Administration approval as it supposedly protects women from four types of Human Papilloma Virus that can cause Cervical Cancer. This sounds like a great thing, but why are some women dying from the vaccine? HPV is a sexually transmitted infection. If a woman contracts HPV and the infection is not cleared by her immune system, it can lead to Cervical (and other forms of) Cancer.

As a mother and a woman, my head is not in the sand. If you follow this blog then you know that I am trying to give my children the values and strength of character to remain abstinent as single adults, whether they choose marriage or not. Am I aware that they may not be able to live up to this expectation? Absolutely. That's why I'm conflicted by whether or not I should subject the princess to this shot if there is information about its dangers.

I just read that 32 women in the United States have died as a result of illness directly related to side effects from Gardasil. Honestly, I don't believe the FDA will truly know the full effect of this vaccine on women until a whole generation grows up vaccinated. That could take twenty years. There is no way I want my daughter to be the FDA's test rat! On the other hand, Cervical Cancer is devastating and horrible. How could I live with myself if I denied the princess Gardasil and then she got sick from HPV?

Every time one of my children gets vaccinated, I cringe. Just the idea of my babies being injected with a virus, dead or not, makes me want to wrestle the syringe out of the nurse's hand and tackle her to the floor. Instead, I hold my child's hands down on the table while he screams "Mama help!" looking away so he won't catch my glassy eyes. I know the very rare risks of vaccines, and the research being done on them. However, don't forget what Polio, for example, was like for people. Parents don't have to worry about many crippling and often fatal illnesses any longer thanks to God and modern medicine. I have to make a choice and I decide to take a risk in that case. Finding out that these vaccines are created using discarded fetal tissue by certain vaccine companies turns my stomach and makes me feel quite crazy. What is a mother to do? I still choose to vaccinate my children.

Gardasil is different. It's "new" and it doesn't prevent all types of HPV. Do I think my daughter will be more promiscuous because she feels a sense of invincibility with the vaccine? No. Will I make her get the shot at eleven years old? I'm leaning towards no. I have such a bad feeling about it.

Women over twenty six are not eligible for the vaccine. Right now I think I'm going to let her decide for herself about getting it when she goes to college, or when she's old enough to go to the OBGYN and make those types of decisions about her body.

I seriously pray that my children will be reverent of their bodies and those of others. I do all I can to live and teach this message to them. When I was a teen and a young adult, I was already thinking of my future children when I struggled with chastity. I knew I had to live it for them. In the case of the princess, what if she chaste as a single adult, but, God forbid, some monster sexually assaults her? It's hard to even write down this idea, since it makes me want to strangle hypothetical people; (I'm only human). Then I would kick myself for preventing her from being vaccinated.

I just don't know about Gardasil. I'm really conflicted. I know my kids are small right now, but before you know it this decision will be looming over my head. Readers, what are your thoughts?

  • Read this article about the dangers of Gardasil:

  • Read this article about HPV:

I appreciate your feedback.


Daniel Kenney said...

Loren, first of all great blog and I am excited to check it out more often...make sure to send me a Tweet every now and then to remind me when you put up a new post.

About the Guardasil vaccine, my wife Teresa is a Nurse Practioner with Dr. Thomas Hilgers at Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha. They are a Catholic reproductive clinic and this subject comes up a lot. My wife is the expert not me and it sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the issues. It is sad that just like the birth control pill put all the responsibility on women so too does this vaccine put all of the responsibility on women. Since the vaccine guards against HPV, you could just as easily have made a vaccine for boys. And can you imagine what parents would say if you started telling them that their 9 year old boys needed to get vaccinated for HPV? If you ever want to visit with my wife Teresa feel free to email her at

Keep up the great work!

Daniel Kenney

Anonymous said...

First, to Daniel's comment: Merck submitted in December an applilcation to FDA to get Gardisal approved for use by men, so that process in in the works.

To the question Loren raised, kudos for you and your quest for knowledge on this subject. One word of caution - I would certainly hope that you are simply not just relying on that blog as a sole factor in your decision making because it is clear from the title that there is an immediate bias and if you are doing information gathering, you need to make sure you look at all sides of the equation and not just sources that line up philosophically with your views. I as a conservative do watch Fox, but as a journalist, I also understand that channel's bias and I do watch CNN, MSNBC and others to get the additional perspectives I need to draw my own conclusions.

That being said, for the moment, there has been no causal relation found between Gardasil and the deaths reported from those taking it, but that question is in fact being studied because of the reported deaths. That blog makes it sound like there is causal relationship and does not appear to understand the function of the adverse event reporting system. The adverse event database that has been used as a source for information is not scientifically vetted and may not necessarily paint the full picture of what is going on, so analysis of the reports made to it alone is not enough to say for certain a causal relationship exists. FDA uses it to determine if more investigation is needed.

As to your question about when/if to use Gardisal on The Princess, I say wait and see. If you follow through with your thinking, let some years pass to when there will be that much more data to analyze and determine if there is a causal relationship between Gardasil and death. She has some years to go before hormones start kicking in and choices will have to be made.

The other thing to keep in mind is that NO DRUG is without side effects. Some certainly are more severe than others and that blog post seems to discount that point entirely...


Loren Christie said...

Hi Daniel, welcome. Thanks for the comment. Hi G, glad to hear from you, as I know drugs are your business, sort of. I know the Prolife Blog is slanted. You watch Fox News? I hope you know that CNN and MSNBC are slanted to the left, big time. As far as I'm concerned, broadcast news is no longer objective at all. Thank goodness, the Princess is only about to turn 4. I'm seeing teens in the youth group I run go through the series of shots for Gardasil, and some have suffered mild side effects. The shots are painful and cause soreness in the very least. That's nothing if they save people from Cancer. Is Gardasil possibly going to kill my daughter? That's what I'd like to know. I have heard reports that it will be available for boys in the future, like you say, G.

Daniel mentioned "the pill" putting unfair responsibility on women. I agree. In addition to this idea, I personally refuse to be a slave to birth control, and I think it puts women's health in danger in the long term because it messes with the natural function of their bodies. I think the pill can be helpful in cases where it is taken for medical reasons other than preventing pregnancy (like regulating hormones and preventing excessive bleeding). I plan to pass on this opinion to my children as well. Whether or not they agree with me is up to their adult selves, whose consciences my husband and I have formed. I'll keep watching the reports on the drug. THanks again for the great comments!

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I love the way you delve into your conflicted thoughts on this issue. I have chosen not to have my daughters (10 and 11) vaccinated at this time. I am one who ways the pros and cons for every decision that is not clear-cut, and it seems the cons far outweigh the pros on this. Many of their friends (who are planning to attend Catholic high school, by the way) have been vaccinated. For the future: Any girl who is sexually active should visit a gynecologist and they could then choose to become vaccinated at that time. I did think of the "monstrous" possibility and the fears that that bring up would be much worse than just HPV - in any case cervical cancer can be treated when caught early by a PAP smear which are required for sexually active women.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Loren, I know that all news is biased and broadcast journalism is at times the worst offender. It does irritate me how biased it can be. I do give Fox some credit for presenting the left's point of view, but their news is still biased toward the right. I watch the left's propoganda machines (CNN, MSNBC etc...) to see the other side and to compare how they cover the same story. It's fascinating from my perspective as a journalist, and sickening at the same time as a citizen of this great country to see such blatent pandering and occassional misinformation and how the all important role that journalism should be playing in our society has been reduced to soundbites. I'll end the rant here...


Loren Christie said...

You're right. As citizens, we really have to think critically about all the information from media sources. We can't trust any one source because it seems that there is a always a hidden agenda. Because I am rather conservative, I mostly watch Fox. MSNBC causes me to hurl things at the new flat screen in my bedroom, to Milk Man's dismay. Have a great weekend! Any info on Gardasil that you can pass on would be great.

jen said...

As I understand, you can take the vaccine up to the age of 27. Thus, my daughter can decide for herself one day. We absolutely preach abstinence. My concern for my daughter is marrying someone who is not pure. HPV is very hard to diagnose in men. This stuff really scrares me - the vaccine, HPV. I will follow up on the links.

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