Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

April 20, 2009

HPV Vaccine: To Immunize or Not to Immunize

Gardasil: a vaccine which has raised many eyebrows in the Catholic world. I was initially staunchly opposed to the vaccine when it came out. "Why on earth would I put that in my body if I am practicing abstinence? Why the heck would parents vaccinate their children with something that is still not medically certain? Is the government going to mandate that children receive this like the measles vaccine? If I get it or parents immunize their daughters, are we 'okaying' the behavior by which it spreads?" These questions raced through my head, and I quickly made up my mind to dismiss the thought of ever putting it into my body.

But as I grow older and continue dating, I have begun to think differently. Certainly my commitment to safeguarding my virginity has not changed. But I wonder, what are the chances of winding up with another virgin? And because I don't limit myself to men who have not had any sexual experience and because HPV symptoms do not present themselves in men, I wonder if I should consider vaccinating myself. Those who choose abstinence are really no longer immune to the devastating effects of sexually transmitted diseases anymore, as they have been something of an epidemic in our culture. If I am called to marriage, then I very well may have to deal with the reality of a spouse who suffers from such a condition. And so, what I am to do?

The Arlington Catholic Herald, a diocesan newspaper, writes the following:

The Catholic Church teaches generally that immunizing against disease is an important and morally responsible action. There is nothing intrinsically immoral associated with providing or receiving the HPV vaccine. It is necessary to acknowledge the prevalence of HPV, the many deaths and other health problems it has caused, and the appropriateness of combating it. The four types of HPV that the vaccine is designed to prevent cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts.

The Catholic Medical Association says the following:

The fact that HPV is spread primarily by sexual contact does not render vaccination against it unethical. Healing and preventing diseases, no matter what their source, are acts of mercy and a moral good. Prevention of HPV infection is distinct from, and should not be construed as encouraging, the behavior by which HPV is spread.

Women, any thoughts? What's a Magdalene sister to do?


Margaret Perry said...

The teaching of the church is clear that it is not immoral to use the drug. The political questions that swim around this vaccine deal more with the rights of parents to choose, rather than with the morality of administering the vaccine itself.

But, as we are adults, it seems to me the only option is to regard this like any other vaccine. We need to weigh the risks and benfits of the drug, as well as the likelihood that we'll contract the disease.

I haven't gotten vaccines for hep. A or B in years, since I don't travel abroad, and it is not likely that I'll need it. However, I do keep up my tetanus shots because you never know when you're going to step on a rusty nail.

We have to push aside all the fuss and look at this as a straightforward medical matter. I think that makes the decision a lot easier.

louis said...

You should also check out the Children of God website and Judy Brown's website to get a more well rounded pro and con regarding HPV vaccine and other vaccine concerns and issues (such as should Catholics use Vaccines that are manufactured from the cells of aborted (murdered) children???? (Would you consider using a vaccine made from the cells of murdered holocaust victims ? NO? Then why would it be ok to use vaccines made from murdered aborticaust victims???) You guys are going to be moms one day and you will need to confront this issue. Currently, the rubella, chicken pox, and hepatitis A vaccines are manufactured using the cells of aborticaust victims. Will you allow your children to receive these ? (caution: remember the slippery slope.)

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