July 22, 2009 03:22 PM ET | Deborah Kotz
I’ll be the first to confess that I wasn’t a fully informed parent when it came to getting my kids their early immunizations. They got every shot on time without my weighing the risks and benefits. I barely glanced at the consent form except to note when to dispense Tylenol for crankiness or fever. Thankfully, they all sailed through with no more than a few tears. Then it was time for my 12-year-old daughter to get Gardasil, the vaccine against the cervical-cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV). I was a little worried because it was a new vaccine and, after talking with some experts, decided to delay getting her vaccinated until she was older.
My primary concern was that since this vaccine was so new, no one knew exactly how long its protective effects would last. The vaccine could wear off, some experts told me, before my daughter was even exposed to the sexually transmitted HPV. I was also told that, although the vaccine was very safe, no one knew whether it caused rare side effects since not enough young girls have received the vaccine to detect them.