Jump directly to the content
The Awkward-but-Important HPV Vaccine ConversationJan Christian / Flickr

The Awkward-but-Important HPV Vaccine Conversation


Jun 11 2013
Why I changed my mind about vaccinating my kids—boys and girls.

Editor's note: A national study published this month credited the HPV vaccine with significantly dropping the infection rate among U.S. teens. "Infection with the viral strains that cause cancer dropped to 3.6 percent among girls ages 14 to 19 in 2010, from 7.2 percent in 2006," the New York Times reported.

Truth is (if you'll forgive my use of a conversation-starter favored by tweens and teens), I wasn't always a champion of the HPV vaccine. I did, however, eventually change my mind and had all four of my kids vaccinated.

As a number of recent studies show, I'm not alone. More parents are accepting the vaccine after learning about the long-term dangers of the human papillomavirus for both women and men, as Michael Douglas' recent admissions underscored. Though the focus was on girls during the vaccine's early years, insurance companies now routinely cover the cost of the vaccine for both girls and boys, my pediatrician told me.

I didn't really enjoy learning certain intimate details about Douglas' sexual history, but I'm grateful he brought the issue of men and HPV back into the national conversation. Plenty of Americans parents continue to dismiss the need to get their daughters vaccinated and don't even consider the series of shots for their sons.

I was there once. My initial reticence over the HPV vaccine probably comes from how I first heard of it, years ago during a dinner with a few fellow moms. One said that some girls on her daughter's soccer team had approached another mom after learning she was a nurse. These girls were concerned, you see, about some strange warts they'd found in their mouths. When the nurse-mom took a look, she saw what she knew to be signs of sexually transmitted infections.

Warts in their mouths? Suddenly I'd lost my appetite. "And, as for the boys they were with, those warts will be on their – well, you know…" my friend said. "It was human papilloma virus. From oral sex." At the time, my oldest child was in middle school, as were the aforementioned girls. I stumbled over my words. "Wait. What? Who are these girls?"

What had I wanted to hear? That they'd been recently released from a maximum-security juvenile detention center? Nope. They were just regular, young teens who were sexually active. Well, to be precise, they didn't consider themselves sexually active because it was "just" oral sex, not intercourse.

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
School Prayer Doesn’t Need a Comeback

School Prayer Doesn’t Need a Comeback

Why this prayer-loving, evangelical mom won’t be joining the movement.
The Pastor’s Wife Effect

The Pastor’s Wife Effect

Pastors' wives don’t need reverence. They need friendship.
How Love Leads Us to Worry

How Love Leads Us to Worry

When we love someone or something, we assume they’re ours to worry about.
What Does It Mean to Be Black-ish?

What Does It Mean to Be Black-ish?

How “exceptional” African Americans still bolster our stereotypes.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

Christine Caine, Liberty University to Launch ‘Lean In’-Type Program for Christian Women

Propel calls on the church to equip and validate working women.

What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
The Awkward-but-Important HPV Vaccine Conversation