Why I’ll Vaccinate My Daughter against Cervical Cancer
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that children are less likely to receive cervical cancer vaccine than any other recommended childhood vaccine. A CDC spokesperson suggests that the problem might be related to the fact that it is newer and therefore less familiar than other vaccines. Also, it is administered during the teen years and teens tend to have fewer medical check-ups than infants.
In my dealings as a public health professional, I have heard people bring up another barrier that the CDC spokesperson did not mention. Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. Some people would prefer not to protect teens from the consequences of sexual activity.
I believe in natural, behavioral prevention strategies. I will teach my daughter that she can help prevent many health and emotional issues by compliance with the law of chastity. However, I will also vaccinate her to help prevent her from getting HPV and cervical cancer. Here is why I have made this choice:
I will try to keep my daughter safe, but someday she might be raped. I cannot prevent the physical and emotional pain that would result from such a violation but I can help protect her from getting cervical cancer as a result of that rape.
I will encourage her to look for a mate who promises to be faithful to her, but her husband could cheat on her anyway. I can’t save her from heartbreak but I can help prevent her husband from causing her to get cervical cancer.
I will teach her to be abstinent from sexual activity until she marries, but in a passionate moment, she might make a mistake. I believe that sincere repentance will be enough penance for her sins; she does not need to pay for the sins of youth by suffering with cervical cancer.
I will teach her my values, but she may choose a different path. I cannot take away her agency to make her own choices about her sexuality. No matter what choices she makes, I will never stop loving her and never wish her harm. I could never be sorry that I helped protect her from cervical cancer.