The trusty Cancer for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains that tween girls need the Gardasil vaccine for proper cancer prevention, and recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) announced that tween boys should get in line too. But unfortunately, among all the young ladies encouraged to get their three-dose ticket to an HPV-free life, the female 11-12 years old set were much more likely to report some uncomfortable side effects.
US News reports that in a study of 900 of girls and young women (between the ages of 11 and 26), preteen girls were more likely to experience your standard vaccination side effects two weeks after the administration, including pain, dizziness, bruising and discoloration, swelling at the spot of injection, and in very very rare instances (1%), fainting. Perhaps it’s all those Justin Bieber records, age, or even just size, but tween girls can’t hack it like the older girls:
For example, pain during the injection was reported by 84 percent of girls aged 11 to 12 versus 74 percent of women aged 18 to 26. Dizziness after receiving the vaccine was reported by 19 percent of girls aged 11 to 12 compared to 8 percent of women ages 18 to 26.
Dr. Mike Wilmington, a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician in Vancouver, WA, told the publication that the side effects are minimal and can be managed by encouraging girls to remain seated or lie down following the vaccination. Pain, reportedly, can be managed too. Kids of this age were more likely to have received the other Best Hits of vaccinations like hepatitis A, tetanus, and meningitis around the same time of receiving Garadisil. The study concluded that these kids were more likely to speak up about side effects from these other vaccines as well.
Allison Naleway, the lead author of the study, says that if anything, these results reveal how little young girls know about Gardasil before going in. She said:
“Gardasil is an important cancer prevention vaccine, but too few girls are getting it,” lead author Allison Naleway, a senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., said in a Kaiser news release. “Our study found that young girls do have some knowledge about the vaccine, but they need to know more. If these girls and their parents know what to expect, they will likely be less afraid of getting the vaccine.”
Considering that a quarter of young ladies surveyed believed that the HPV vaccine meant that they no longer have to employ safe sex practices, I’d say that a lot of misinformation surrounding this vaccine remains — especially for young girls. There never seem to be a shortage of lies surrounding sexual health for both boys and girls, but keeping tweens and teens in the dark only leaves them less informed to make healthful decisions.