We've often thought it'd be cool if our partners-in-crime wanted to speak for themselves here on Rice Daddies. Well, today, we have our first post by a Rice Mama—my lovely and talented wife, la dra. (That's "la doctora, " not "la druh," people, Spanish for "the doctor," which she is.)
I would do anything to protect my daughter’s health and safety. The news that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recommended the routine giving of the new Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to girls as young as age 9 gives parents of daughters one less thing to worry about: cervical cancer.
Here, in our lifetime, is a vaccine preventable cancer! Nothing else like this has ever happened before. The second leading cancer-killer of women worldwide could be like diptheria—what’s that? exactly—in a few generations. In our children’s generation!
But I feel like I am the only one excited about this. [Full disclosure: I'm a board-certified family physician working in a non-profit community health clinic]. If you read the newspapers, the spin is about the “controversy” of giving children a vaccine for an STD. Hello? This STD causes cancer! Who would knowingly deny their child protection from cancer? Where is the controversy? [See this story for a slightly different take on it.]
I have to believe parents will support this vaccine. I believe insurers will reimburse for this vaccine. But the vulnerable population of uninsured children has its fate cradled in the hands of policymakers who, I hope, would make the same decision to protect these millions of children that they would to protect their own. I fear, however, that these children will get lost amidst the rhetoric and the politics, and that “abstinence only” will be their only protection against cervical cancer (while their better-insured peers grow up vaccinated). "Abstinence only" rhetoric won't protect against HPV contraction during rape, and HPV doesn't discriminate between sexual contact and sexual intercourse or between unmarried teenagers and women who waited until marriage. If you're worried that giving your daughter a vaccine at age 12 will automatically send all your teaching out the window, then either you're selling yourself short or you have other things to worry about.
People talk angrily and fearfully about things like promiscuity and abstinence or morality and government interference, but at the bottom, this is about one thing, and one thing only: protecting our daughters from a horrible, and now preventable, disease. Looked at that way, I don’t think anyone could really be against getting this vaccine. So let’s rejoice together! A day has come that we thought might never come in our lifetimes.