Should You Get The Gardasil Vaccine?

Since HPV is the only known cause of cervical cancer, pharmaceutical giants have done something to address it. This is no small thing. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women.

In recent years, a vaccination which protects a sexually active young woman against 4 of about 100 strains of HPV is not only available but there’s a lot of pressure to get it. While two of the strains the vaccine protects against are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer. Two of the strains the vaccine does not confront are responsible for the remainder of cancer cases. So, it does not provide guaranteed protection. At the same time, abstinence does. A woman who is not sexually active will never acquire HPV.

I haven’t been quick to get on board, but I have been careful to explain all the risks to both of my girls. You have to make the decision with for yourself—talking with your parents if you’re under the age of 18—after a lot of prayer and research. A major concern that I have is that the vaccine has only been tested for four years before release, so we have no long-term outcomes concerning risk. And, there have been unusual side effects ranging from fainting to muscle weakness to death that cannot be prove to be related to the vaccine, but those who experienced them are begging for further investigation.

The only no-risk method of protection against HPV is abstinence, followed by faithfulness in a life-time mutually monogamous marriage relationship. No matter what you decide about the vaccine, make sure you understand the powerful vaccinating impact of the decision to abstain until marriage.

-Adapted from And the Bride Wore White, Chapter 2, Revised Edition, 2012

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30 Comments

  • With regard to the Gardasil Vaccine, my doctor recommended my son receive this vaccine. She said boys/men are carriers and can infect girls/women. Thoughts about this?

    • It is true that boys/men are carriers. It is also true that they can get cancer but it is usually throat cancer that impacts men. This is growing at a rather alarming rate.

  • Gardasil was actually only tested for fifteen months instead if the intended four years before it was released. Neither of those time frames are enough to make me choose to inject that into my children. You should watch the film The Greater Good. You can find it on YouTube. It features a young lady who received the vaccine as well as one of the scientists who created it. Nope, no Gardasil vaccines here!

    • I totally agree – if you check out the country specific organisations responsible for paying out for vaccine injuries – you will see that death is linked with the vaccine – and within the court they require very strong evidence – and that the amount paid our can be very small for some of the very serious side effects.
      When you realise that the CDC has just recently been proven to have altered a study looking at links between MMR vaccine and Autism, in order to hide results they didn’t want to see, you realise that they have no interest in keeping your child safe. Would you trust their data on this after a major author/researcher admitted that they knew of a potential link with MMR and a 340% increase in Autism in black male children?

  • Dannah, I’m so glad you addressed this. I am in complete agreement with you. When my daughter entered college, there was a big push for her to get the vaccine. Of course when you tell the provider the reason not to need it is because of a personal belief in purity until marriage, they practically laugh you out of the building as being clueless and completely naive about the sexual practices of your college (even high school age) children. A rather snide comment I received went like this: “Well, your daughter may not be sexually active, but you’d better hope her future husband is a virgin as well.” She made it sound as though THAT concept was completely laughable. In her opinion, even IF (and that was a very skeptical if) my daughter were a virgin when she married, it was highly unlikely that her husband would be as pure. After researching the pros and cons, my daughter opted not to have the vaccine.
    This story does have a happy ending: our 22 year old daughter was married this summer to a man who saved himself for her.

    • This was exactly my experience, Jill. The one difference was that our gyn was so pleased to hear that my daughter’s fiance also had a commitment to purity…a little surprised but she said it made her day to hear of 2 young people who had committed to saving themselves for marriage. They were married this summer too! ♡ I have read many terrible things that could possibly be associated with the vaccine. ..don’t think it is worth it.

  • In college, before my husband committed his life to Christ, he had engaged in sexual activity but not intercourse. At this time he got HPV but men are not regularly tested for this, so he didn’t know. When I married my husband, I was a virgin. Because I was totally abstinent I did not get the HPV vaccine on the advice of many Christian women in my life. In my first PAP smear after my wedding, I found out I have HPV. I had to undergo several uncomfortable and embarrassing procedures to reduce the risk of cancer from the HPV. My husband was devastated that he had passed this on to me. But the doctors have told me that even if we had known that he had HPV, there is no way to prevent the spread of HPV to a partner because touch alone can spread the virus. The type of HPV I have would have been prevented by the vaccine. I wish I had consulted my doctor about the vaccine instead of just accepting the advice of women in my church. I agree that the vaccine may not be for everyone, but it is a conversation worth having with a doctor. In my case, to use total abstinence to prevent HPV would have meant total abstinence in my marriage.

  • Terry, I am so sorry to read that this happened to you. I will pray for God to heal your body and spirit as you live with the consequences of your infection, and I will pray the same for your husband. Your situation is exactly the scenario that my parents and I envisioned when we were approached about the HPV vaccine while I was in high school. We all prayed about it and decided that since there were no guarantees that my future husband will have not contracted the virus in some way, or that he may come to Christ later in life after making a choice not to be abstinent, that I should protect myself with the vaccine. My brother is also now receiving the vaccine. I do not know who God wants me to marry or when that time will come, but I do trust in His plan for my good and His glory and pray that He protects my future husband from sexual sin before marriage. Thank you for sharing your story and your testimony.

  • I’m sorry, where does it say in the bible that people who aren’t licensed to practice medicine should give religious guilt cloaked in the guise of medical advice to promote their own agenda? So unethical.

    • Sarah, she was giving her opinion that is all. That is not “unethical” and it is not “religious guilt.” If you feel that way then those are your issues that you need help with; perhaps it’s your guilt that is making you angry with her opinion. There is nothing wrong with her giving her opinion, it’s still a free country last I looked. You don’t agree and that’s ok for YOU! Promiscuity is dangerous, especially these days, but if you wish to endanger yourself you have that freedom. I agree with Dannah that abstinence is best whether you are a Christian or not. The Gardasil Vaccine has more proof that it hurts young women more than it benefits them. Do research on it yourself and see. I have shared the evidence with many moms contemplating the vaccine for their daughters and they all have said no thank you and then explained the risks to their daughters, that are of age, and explained to them the deadly consequences of promiscuity. Should they choose a different lifestyle later in their life, that is then their choice and can get vaccinated then. Common sense is all Dannah is discussing here. If you choose otherwise, that is your prerogative and may God be with you.

  • So… my question is, if you are going to remain abstinent until marriage, there is no reason to get the vaccine at all, and if when you do get married, it is important to know enough about the man you are marrying and for him to be honest enough with you that you would already know if he had experimented sexually… at that point, before you are married and become intimate, after previously deciding not to recieve the vaccine you can then choose to recieve it, or request your fiance to be tested to determine if you should take the risk of recieving the vaccine…
    just an idea… you dont take action in preparation of a mistake you are not willing to let happen, it just sets you up for failure.

    • There are a few flaws with the above.

      1. There is no reliable test for men – if they have warts even non genital warts they have a strain of HPV. HPV is responsible for both genital and non-genital warts. There are over 250 strains of this virus – 14 strains are noted to be high risk ie directly linked to the development of cervical cancer. The vaccine protects against 2 strains that are estimated to cause 80% of the cases of cervical cancer. The other 2 strains in the vaccine provide NO CANCER protection strictly genital wart protection those 2 strains are responsible for approximately 70% of the cases of genital warts. Also you can care the virus and never have an outbreak and then a man could pass this on to his wife. Also this vaccine is only approved for administration to male and female patients between the ages of 11 and 26 so if you were to get married after 26 it would almost certainly not be covered by any insurance company as there is no FDA approval for use of this vaccine above the age of 26. The series can cost anywhere from 300 to 1000 dollars without insurance coverage.

      2. Women can be tested for the 14 strains of high risk HPV from the same sample as their PAP smear if a “THIN PREP” ™ pap smear is done.

      3. This does provide some protection but it is far from perfect and only protects against 2 strains our of 14 that are directly linked to cervical cancer. My biggest issue as a physician is why the other 2 strains are in the vaccine. No one from the CDC, or drug company’s has a good answer – only it prevents genital warts but clearly the protection for genital warts is even more minimal as there are over 250 strains of HPV out there that “could” cause genitals wart and while uncomfortable and embarrassing these can be removed and are not in any way life threatening

      I do no impose my opinions religous or otherwise on my patient but my job is to provide them with the most up to date full disclosure of information so that they can make the best decision for their health and with this vaccine it is very personal and needs to be each young lady and her parents and or spouse fiance decision..

    • There is no real affordable test for men and Hpv. If there is one, my information is that it is prohibitively expensive. Most men are carriers and it goes undetected.

  • When I was a sophomore in college, I was sexually assaulted by a close friend whom I trusted. Like Terry, I was an abstinent virgin who did not get the Gardasil vaccine on the advise of many Christian women I knew. I discovered after the rape that I had contracted HPV from him. Please don’t be naive enough to say that the decision to remain abstinent until marriage alone will prevent a woman from contracting an STD. I wish that I had protected myself from HPV. I’m not saying that everyone should receive the vaccine, but please, have an informed conversation with your doctor before making the decision. I wish I had…

    • Hi Aimee. This is an often-used argument in favor of the vaccination and I’m hard-pressed to consider it. It’s so heart-breaking to hear your story. I trust you’ve been well-counseled and have received the emotional healing you need and deserve from what happened to you. My opinion is careful in terms of sharing what my personal choice has been. This is based on the fact that the vaccine only guards against SOME of the dozens of strains of the vaccine and does not guarantee you’d be safe from contracting HPV. Even with the vaccine, you could have contracted HPV from this encounter. There are also risks associated with the vaccine…and any vaccine. If the vaccine was risk-free and completely eliminated the risk of HPV, I might have a different opinion. But that’s not the case. We do agree that it’s really important to discuss this with your doctor. I’d also discuss it with a wise Christian well-educated in sexual health if your doctor is not a Christian.

  • “The only no-risk method of protection against HPV is abstinence, followed by faithfulness in a life-time mutually monogamous marriage relationship.”

    Actually, this is not true. You can be abstinent and then in a faithful, mutually-monogamous marriage and still contract HPV, if the person you married had previously contracted it elsewhere. Furthermore, you can’t presume to be able to predict or control another person’s behavior for an entire lifetime, even if that person is your spouse. The best way to prevent cervical cancer from HPV is to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to essentially vaccinate yourself against cancer. It’s a cancer vaccine. It should be a no-brainer.

    • …or god forbid you or your spouse are sexually assaulted and contract a high-risk strain of HPV and yet opted to not receive the vaccine because you planned to only have sex with one person ever.

    • Obviously, I’m suggesting a rather utopian idea here that two people would have waited faithfully for a monogamous marriage. In that case, it is the safest way to avoid it. Unfortunately, Gardisil does not vaccinate against all of the strains of HPV responsible for cancer. And all vaccines come with a risk especially if long-term trials have not been run as in the case with Gardisil. I respect your different opinion, but I’ll stick with mine! 🙂

  • Doctors/pharma will always recommend the vaccination; it doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. We need to do our own research and advocate for our kids and our values. I feel there are indeed TOO many reports of side effects/deaths/reports on compromised data/conclusions, “confessions from the lab” that compromise the so-called efficacy of this vaccination so I will not be on board with pursuing it for my girls. There is too much at risk. While it would be devastating to practice abstinence and then later contract this from a future partner, I wouldn’t be willing to get the vaccination “just in case”; the potential risks from the vaccination are worse than the benefits. I understand that there are strong viewpoints in each camp on this debate; I just wish that the media/pharma in support of this vaccine would also support the promotion of abstinence (in boys and girls). Also, the paid advertising for Gardasil in magazines feature BABIES (I mean, as in pre-teens… they are still babies to us… too young to consider sexual activity!) and that makes me feel SO sad. We are such “followers” of the media that I would be willing to bet that most consumers do not realize “A woman who is not sexually active will never acquire HPV.” They just follow along and do what they are led to do per the media and pharmaceutical industry. 🙁

  • Absolutely not. This vaccine had left multiple young women paralyzed and caused a couple documented deaths.
    The vaccine was pushed into use before long term testing had been done.
    There is not enough evidence to support the safety of it, and like you said the only guarantee its abstinence.
    I just don’t feel good about it.

  • I feel that if ever Christian mom’s were acting out of FEAR, this vax is the case. As is with our personal decisions to follow Christ, we feel that this alone is a reason to NOT vaccinate our children based on theories, but with the knowledge that the Lord certainly would tell us to not attach ourselves to unclean things and take them into our bodies in fear of a possibility of contracting each specific disease. Each year there are more rules, and new required vaccines, yet we see more and more personal experiences with horrible reactions to those supposed theories that were supposed to protect. We are not the norm, yet we stand firm that this is not of the Lord and we should abstain from it. Teach your children that His ways are highest.

  • As a former director of a Pregnancy Care Centre, currently training as a pharmacy technician, and a mom of 2 teen girls, I have given much thought and research to this. Especially, because in Canada, Gardasil is part of our free vaccination program. First off, Gardasil was designed to help vaccinate against 4 strains of HPV. Since the creation of this drug, two of those four strains- 16 & 18, appear to have mutated, and are now causing esophageal cancer as well. Because of this, some countries are recommending that boys also receive the vaccine. However, it is unclear if the vaccine can still protect against the virus. This also begs the question, if these strains have mutated, is it possible that the milder strains can mutate into cancer-causing agents?

    Secondly, 8 out of 100,000 women in developed countries contract cervical cancer. Most of those women will find out about the cancer through the results of a PAP smear, and will be treated in time to defeat the disease. Since more than cervical cancer can be identified through a PAP smear, it is beneficial for vaccinated women to continue with these simple procedures. When the risk of this cancer is so low, and the long-term effects of the vaccine unknown, is it necessary to receive the vaccine?

    Finally, while remaining abstinent until marriage may not protect my children (boys or girls) from STDs or STIs, it is still God’s plan. If they’ve been vaccinated against HPV (and based on recent data, that protection may no longer be there) they are not vaccinated against HIV, Chlamydia, Syphilis (which is currently on the rise) or other diseases. One pharmacist that I work with called the Gardasil vaccine “bad science”. After talking to my girls, we’ve decided to stick to God’s plan, leave the “bad science” to the scientists, and forego the vaccine.

  • I too am concerned about the lack of research, I feel it should have been more extensive. I was originally opposed to this vaccine feeling it was all but saying go ahead, you are protected. However I have changed my thinking. While the absolutely only way not to acquire hpv is abstinence, sometimes there is lack of judgement or just promiscuity. There is also the more serious reason which is rape or by adultery by the partner. I feel if there is a safe way to help protect against cervical cancer then I don’t feel that I can say you should abstain then you don’t have to worry about it. It is almost like saying you deserve it if you get it. So, I changed my thoughts to say do what you can to protect yourself, the very best thing is abstinence, but as I said sometimes it is not the girl’s choice.

  • Our pediatrician has pushed for the vaccine. However, my GYN said to wait until child is older and entering into a relationship before considering it. She urged to wait as long as possible for many reasons. It’s nice not to have to think about it right now.

  • I very much appreciate your addressing this issue. Could you go back and correct the typos though? I think to be an effective argument against those who would argue with you, it has to be correctly written. There are just a couple of things but they’re obvious. Thank you.

  • My daughter is 16, never had sex. She has a boyfriend who also has never had sex. They intend to marry after graduation. IF they only have sex with each other in the future, should she get the Gardasil vaccine?

    • That’s a challenging question for many, but it’s not for me. The only known cause of cervical cancer (which is really what the vaccine is fighting) is HPV (a common sexually transmitted disease). If there has not been sexual promiscuity in either partner, the risk is almost non-existent. So then you have to weigh out the risks of the vaccine and be a good neighbor to weigh out the risks you pose to the population if you do not get it. Only you, your doctor and God can make this decision.

  • My best friend is a Registered Nurse. We are both believers and follow Christ. She and her husband were both virgins when they got married, plus have been in Monogamous relationship with each other since, plus she got the Gardasil vaccine as you can get it from other ways besides sexual contact. She still got HPV, luckily, not a cancer-causing strain. 90% of people carry HPV throughout their lifetime at least once. But just like our body fights the flu or a cold, most people’s immune systems can fight it off.
    I always thought that you could only get HPV through sexual contact but this is NOT TRUE. and I have learned this through the knowledge of having MANY friends working in the medical field as well as my best friend’s personal experience.

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