Advice for Parents on Gardasil Vaccine for HPV

Leading pediatricians weigh in on the controversial vaccine that protects against cervical cancer.

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Last month, U.S. News posted the first in a set of vaccine videos that my colleague Bernadine Healy, M.D., and I made with leaders at the American Academy of Pediatrics. The first roundtable discussion dealt with vaccines and autism, and the second (below) addresses Gardasil, a vaccine that protects against the cervical-cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

The government recommends this vaccine for all 11- and 12-year-old girls to make sure they get protected early from the virus, which is sexually transmitted. Still, the vaccine is relatively new, and the full details about its safety risks aren't known, as I wrote yesterday. For this reason, I decided to delay giving it to my own teenage daughter. We asked AAP President David Tayloe and President-elect Judith Palfrey to weigh in on this issue and whether it's wise for parents to proceed cautiously when it comes to Gardasil.

Videos will be posted soon on the following topics: the pros and cons of taking a flexible approach to the vaccine schedule; how to communicate risks and benefits to parents; and the swine flu vaccine and other new immunizations.