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The HPV Vaccine: Separating Myth From Fact

The HPV Vaccine: Separating Myth From Fact

By Amalah

Dear Amy,

I hope this question isn’t too personal; feel free to ignore if it is. But as a fellow mom of rapidly-getting-older boys, I was wondering if you had any thoughts or opinions on giving them the Gardasil HPV vaccine. I’m pretty pro-vaccine (uh, no polio for us, thanks!) but for some reason some of my friends are completely refusing this one for their daughters AND sons, and telling me all sorts of awful things that will happen if I vaccinate my son (who is 11) and that it’s all just a big money-making conspiracy by the pharma companies. His pediatrician (who has known him all his life and I trust) is recommending it, it seems most of the reputable sites on The Google claim it’s safe…but then there are a LOT of other sites that, okay, are just completely scaring the crap out of me. 

Again, sorry if this is too personal of a question to ask, but will you give/not give your boys the HPV vaccine?

To poke or not to poke

You know, part of me didn’t want to tackle this question, just because I could already picture the blowback/hissyfit/major drama that would probably take over the comment section.

And then there’s a bigger part of me that is just genuinely sad that in 2015, in America, the topic of vaccines is still crazy controversial. Or even up for debate at all. What in the ever-loving WORLD, people! You’ve brought back whooping cough! And measles! And people are DYING!

(Ten babies died of whooping cough in California in 2010. And now we’ve had our first confirmed measles death in over a decade.)

(In case it’s not clear yet: Enough is enough. TEAM VACCINES.)

Your question is kind of timely, given the new vaccination law in California, where the herd immunity is genuinely in danger due to the high number of parents opting out of vaccines. Typically I’m always opposed to the government getting involved in any way in people’s medical decisions, but once those decisions start endangering the public health in general (and OTHER people’s children — infants who are too young to be vaccinated, seriously ill kids, or pretty much anybody who can’t get vaccinated or is pregnant or hasn’t kept up on their boosters because who cares, nobody gets the measles anymore OH NO WAIT WHAT), Imma have to not care very much. I send my kids to schools where vaccinations are required and so I vaccinate them and I don’t lie that I have some religious conviction that I don’t actually have because I read something scary on the Internet.

Also, before anybody starts: I have a child with mild autism. He is fully vaccinated, and no, those vaccines did not cause his autism, because his autism is genetic and he was Born That Way. VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM FOR THE FOUR HOJILLIONTH TIME. Andrew Wakefield’s study has been utterly, thoroughly debunked and I have SO MUCH RAGE at him, for causing a full-on public health crisis where people are so terrified of having a child “like mine” that they’ll put children at risk of DYING of TERRIBLE DISEASES.


But back to your question, and specifically the (non-required but highly recommended) vaccine for the human papillomavirus, aka HPV. This vaccine got a terrible start, PR wise, as people collectively freaked out over something 1) new, and 2) related to something you get from The Sex.

I can genuinely understand the initial concerns over a new vaccine and not being 100% sure whether it worked or if we knew enough about potential long-term effects. That would’ve given me pause as well, if I’d been young enough to receive the vaccine myself when it was first  introduced. (I’m not even going to speak to the concerns related to OMG we’re giving our virgins whore shots thing, because whatever.) So let’s look where we are NOW:

From the Center for Disease Control, who have a lot of diseases to control, and who I don’t think have any vested interest in having previously-controlled diseases come back: “Approximately 67 million doses of HPV vaccine have been distributed in the U.S. since 2006, and no serious safety concerns have been linked to HPV vaccination. Common, mild side effects reported include pain in the arm where the shot was given, fever, dizziness, and nausea.”

From The New York Times, emphasis mine: “The American government’s goal of vaccinating young girls against the human papillomavirus has been disappointing, with less than a third of teenagers having completed a full course of HPV vaccine. But now the United States can look to Australia, which six years into a successful nationwide HPV vaccination campaign has experienced a sharp decline in the number of new cases of genital warts among young men and women. The country, one of the first to establish a nationally financed HPV vaccination program for girls and young women, has also seen a decrease in the number of cases of cervical abnormalities, a precursor to cervical cancer. Australia’s program, which started in 2007, offers free HPV vaccination to girls who are 12 and 13 years old, and catch­up programs for girls and women under 26. The vaccine protects against genital warts as well as cancers of the cervix, head and neck.”

The Times got its statistics from an actual medical study published in an actual medical journal.

“The researchers found that diagnoses of genital warts among young women ages 12 to 26 plummeted 59 percent in the two years after the program began. For men in the same age group, genital warts cases dropped 39 percent. During the same period, there was also a striking decline in the rate of highgrade cervical abnormalities in teenage girls, a sign that a decline in cervical cancer cases may be on the horizon.”

(Of course, just because you get your daughters vaccinated, it’s important to stress to them that Gardasil is NOT a get-out-of-future-PAP-smears-free card, and regular GYN visits are still vitally important.)

It’s interesting to note that despite those happy numbers, the vaccine fear-mongering machine is alive and well in Australia as well: Belle Gibson, the Australian “wellness blogger” who claimed she cured her brain cancer with green smoothies and lots of kale and pretty Instagram photos, also blamed her cancer on the government-paid-and-recommended HPV vaccine. It was a nice narrative that played to a lot of her fellow anti-vaxxer’s confirmation bias. Vaccines aren’t “natural,” and the government and Big Pharma are in cahoots to poison us all because $$$$$.

Of course, none of it was true. I don’t know if Ms. Gibson is just a straight-up lying scammer or a deeply troubled woman suffering from Munchausen-by-Internet or some other delusional disorder, but I know that Gardasil does not cause brain cancer. (And that a pretty, wholesome, Pinterest-friendly diet alone does not cure cancer).

Look, there are things one may dislike about Big Pharma. But vaccines work. Vaccines are good. We all spend so much time and money worrying about our health and the health of our loved ones. We read books and articles and follow “wellness bloggers” hoping to find a solid path to health and a long life via diet and vitamins and coffee enemas. We run races and wear ribbons and wristbands to raise money and awareness for diseases and different cancers in hopes of science finding a cure…or a vaccine.

And then we get a vaccine for a cancer that is the third most common cancer for women worldwide, and kills over 300,000 women a year (not to mention the  related cancers that men can get!) and we’re all collectively like, eh, I dunno. I think I’ll pass.

I would like to see cervical cancer go the way of polio, honestly. I would like it if nobody — boys, girls, men, women — had to suffer from any of the cancers and other health complications related to dumb stupid old HPV. I personally think that would be super.

So to answer your question: Yes. I am going to get my boys vaccinated against HPV once they reach the recommended age. Then I’ll probably buy them an ice cream cone because shots suck.

(This is not a sponsored post, by the way. I received no additional money beyond my usual column compensation from Alpha Mom, and I swear we are 100% not in cahoots with Big Pharma in order to trick our beloved readers into poisoning themselves with cancer serum because that would be a really dumb long-term business plan you guys.)

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Wendi

    July 8, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Great answer. My 13yo so. Got his Gardisil shot last week & he’s doing just fine.

  • EmilyHG

    July 8, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I would stand at my desk and clap if nobody could see me. Great answer. When my kids are old enough, I’m planning to get them this vaccine.

  • Jeanne

    July 8, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Nicely said.

    To quote my mom, “I guess you can disbelieve in the effectiveness of vaccines when you’ve never known anyone who died from polio or diphtheria.”

    • cindy

      July 8, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      WORD. My mom (born in 1944) contracted polio as an infant, before the Salk vaccine was developed. She had lifelong health issues because of it, and it was only from sheer stubbornness that she wasn’t in a wheelchair for the last decade of her life. I am Team Vaccine all the way.

  • Erin

    July 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    YES!! Well said, Amy, well said. Thank you.

    • Jess

      July 9, 2015 at 5:13 pm

      Agreed!  It’s ironic that only after decades of vaccines success do people consider playing Russian roulette with their loved one’s health because chances are they don’t have any personal connection to someone who was sick with a vaccine preventable disease. 

      And I don’t think “died from” is the only metric we should use to determine if a disease is worth preventing. Even if you don’t die from measles or whooping cough they are still lousy diseases with serious side effects (including blindess from measles). 

      . My grandmother survived polio and needed a cane and special shoes. She suffered a lot of needless pain and discomfort from the disease. You’d better believe she didn’t hesitate to ensure her children and grandchildren were fully vaccinated.

  • Kari

    July 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Hooray!!  Thank you for presenting real evidence to your widespread audience!!  I am a physician so no one listens to us anymore as they think we are in Big Pharma’s pocket (I can assure you – we are not).  I will be getting both my son and daughter vaccinated when they are old enough.  I urge everyone to get their kids vaccinated – you know what hurts more than getting a shot?  Getting your genital warts lasered off!!

  • Kate

    July 8, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    YES times infinity!!  An often overlooked fact is that there are other cancers (not just cervical) that are HPV-related, so getting both boys and girls vaccinated is a terrific idea.  I’m getting my daughter vaccinated as soon as she’s old enough.

  • Kat

    July 8, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    THANK YOU for answering this. Your decision is personal, and I totally would have understood if you just didn’t respond to this question in a personal “yes, I am going to vaccinate my own children”, but THANK YOU. We live in an area full of people who are choosing not to vaccinate, and it is TERRIFYING. I cannot believe that the population in this city (one of the most highly educated cities in the US, mind you!) has so many loud voices about the supposed harm caused by vaccinations. Meanwhile, we have incredible resources and research proving that while vaccinations might have scary sounding ingredients, ultimately they are safe and do prevent what they are created to prevent. I wish people would be careful when researching topics like this, and find doctors that they trust to discuss their concerns about vaccinating before they choose to put immune-compromised individuals at risk by not using the tools we have been using for decades. Sorry – crazy run on sentence – but seriously, thank you for having a brain, doing your research, and sharing your brain-fueled decision with the interwebs. If more people had done that in the first place, we might have avoided some of the unfortunate and unnecessary deaths that have already happened. Herd immunity is good, uninformed/misinformed herd mentality is bad.

    • RachelN

      July 8, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      “Herd immunity is good, uninformed/misinformed herd mentality is bad.”

      Love this!

  • Rachel

    July 8, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I’m commenting with a HALLELUJAH because I think we pro-vaxxers need to STAND UP to this BS as loud as we can.

    Like others said, my dad said “I lived through the Summer of Polio when I grew up. No one needs to live through that.”

  • MR

    July 8, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU for this!! I’ve always been pro vaccine because I have parents who were in the medical field and saw these diseases firsthand long ago, and always raised us with that knowledge. And I am now mother to a daughter who was born with a Congenital Heart Defect, and was at extra risk, so I have a heightened sense of disbelief and anger towards people who choose to risk the herd protection. Somehow people are so far removed from these diseases that they simply don’t get it. And, this was my absolute favorite:
    “Look, there are things one may dislike about Big Pharma. But vaccines work. Vaccines are good. We all spend so much time and money worrying about our health and the health of our loved ones. We read books and articles and follow “wellness bloggers” hoping to find a solid path to health and a long life via diet and vitamins and coffee enemas. We run races and wear ribbons and wristbands to raise money and awareness for diseases and different cancers in hopes of science finding a cure…or a vaccine.

    And then we get a vaccine for a cancer that is the third most common cancer for women worldwide, and kills over 300,000 women a year (not to mention the related cancers that men can get!) and we’re all collectively like, eh, I dunno. I think I’ll pass.

    How do people not see this????

  • June

    July 8, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you x 1,000.

  • Tiffany

    July 8, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    PREACH, Sister.

    Or, if you prefer: Picture the GIF of Nicki Minaj cheering and yelling ‘YAAAAAAASS QUEEN!”

    I agree with every word. It’s a vaccine that prevent ultimately prevents some forms of cancer. Cancer is scary as shit. FUCK CANCER. 

  • Jeannie

    July 8, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Just got to add my voice to the pro-vaccination lobby: my now nine year old contracted a vaccine-preventable infection as a baby, because he wasn`t old enough to have had all his shots yet (just under a year, hadn`t finished all the boosters). Great medical care prevented him from dying or having chronic kidney disease but OMG VACCINATE. It was 2007 and I almost lost my kid. I don`t blame anyone, we have no idea where he picked it up, and I am not saying non-vaccinators are to blame but: almost died, infection was septic before we realized what the problem was. I was pro-vaccination before and now I preach it.

    I do not and cannot believe that the Gardasil vaccine is any part of any kind of conspiracy, or is bad for us in any way. Yes, I know vaccines can harm people, but that is SO much more rare than the potentially fatal diseases that can now be prevented. Vaccines FTW!

  • KR

    July 8, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    I want to add yet another hearty AMEN to the chorus.

    (I have composed several different paragraphs to add but they are all too angry and now I am just seeing red spots, so will try to come back to the general feeling of high-fiving you (and all the other commenters so far) for a kick-ass answer).

  • dan

    July 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    YES! Particularly worth noting that the HPV vaccine will also give your son significant protections if he’s gay, too, and if he ever has oral sex with a woman. It’s an all-round winner.

  • Oana

    July 8, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I’m 33 and got the Gardasil series last year, as did my sister (who has actually had cervical cancer; studies show the vaccine can decrease recurrence) and both our husbands. My mother in law just passed away after a 5 year battle with HPV oral cancer. How can people be so blinded by ignorance? My 2 boys are absolutely getting vaccinated.

    • Suzy Q

      July 8, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      I didn’t know adults could be vaccinated. That’s good news!

      • MJH

        July 8, 2015 at 5:09 pm

        They often don’t vaccinate adults because sexually active adults have been already exposed to the four strains of HPV that Gardasil prevents. As a late-bloomer (sexually), I got the vaccine after I got HPV, because I might get exposed to *another* strand of HPV later. 

        Your body CAN clear HPV, and many people do, but it can also cause cell changes (on the cervix or in the mouth) that can lead to cancer.

        I think some of my conservative friends don’t want to vaccinate because of TEH SEX and because they are counting on their daughters being virgins who marry virgins. Not sure why you’d count on that, but hey, if you want your daughter to be exposed to HPV…after getting my bad cervical cells scraped and then burned off, I’d rather have had the shot.


        • emily

          July 8, 2015 at 5:55 pm

          Good to know! I just had surgery for HPV but didn’t think that I could get the vaccine because am too old.  I all be asking my doctor about that tomorrow.  

          • jessica fantastica

            July 13, 2015 at 7:57 am

            Same here Emily! And FWIW, if I were able to have the vaccine as a preteen I would want it and hope my parents would have given it to me.

  • Andrea

    July 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I didn’t think it was possible to love you more, yet…. 

  • Jennifer PM

    July 8, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    THANK YOU. That is all.

  • Lindsay

    July 8, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    I have never commented on AlphaMom before, though I have read it a lot and LOVE it! I wanted to thank you for being brave enough to take on this issue!

  • Anonymous This Time

    July 8, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I contracted HPV when I was a young woman. It was NOT FUN and the virus remained in my body for approximately a decade. Along the way, I had many abnormal Pap smears. Also not fun. Do you want your daughters to go through that anxiety, as well as multiple biopsies and waiting for those results?

    How I wish this vaccine had been available when I was a child.

  • Cait B

    July 8, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Had the HPV vaccine at 20 (still a virgin then, go me!) (jik insert sarcasm there) and have terrible vaccine reactions. Only thing I got was a lot of arm pain and a fainting spell after I gave blood a few days later. (They now say no giving blood for I think three months after this vax and no one worry, when you faint mid donation they throw out your blood) cervical cancer runs in my family and once this came out my doc was all shot happy and so was I. I mean a vaccine that can prevent cancer? Yes, please!!

  • Jessie

    July 8, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks for this response, Amy. Hallelujah, amen, etc.

  • RachelN

    July 8, 2015 at 6:20 pm


  • Christine Vara

    July 8, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    As a blogger who writes exclusively about immunization related issues, I’m very grateful that you took the time to respond to this question, despite the drama you were anticipating.  Knowing how effective this vaccine is makes it all that much more tragic that it is also so underutilized.  

    Several years ago I wrote about the most common reasons parents choose NOT to get this vaccine, in order to help address their concerns and misconceptions.  But fear is often more persuasive than fact, and sites that prey upon fear don’t need to provide scientific evidence to be effective at getting people to question the safety or efficacy of this vaccine.

    The good news is that there is a new 9-valent HPV vaccine that has recently been approved by the FDA and recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The newly improved vaccine will protect against 5 additional strains of  HPV, which will offer protection against 14% of ADDITIONAL HPV cancers in women and 5% of additional HPV cancers in men. 

    Every year 14 million people will newly acquire HPV. That number astounds me! Each year HPV causes about 17,000 cancers in women, about 9,000 cancers in men, and nearly 4,000 deaths in women in the U.S.  More articles like this will help parents get the facts and will hopefully help boost HPV vaccination rates so that  we can prevent future generations from suffering from devastating HPV cancers. Thank you!  

  • Sarita

    July 8, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Yes!!!! Having grown up in the third-world and seen first hand how bad it can be, I am so thankful for vaccines! My firstborn had rotavirus before the vaccine came about and he was hospitalized due to dehydration at 9months of age. It was not fun! None of my other kids have had it- because they’ve been vaccinated! Yea vaccines!!

  • Amy

    July 8, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Fabulous and thank you!!

  • Kristen

    July 8, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    A good friend of mine contracted HPV in her 20’s. It was a strain that would have been covered by the Gardisil vaccine. She underwent a total hysterectomy and 2 rounds of chemo. Her dream was to have a large family and now will need to pursue adoption. She is honestly very grateful to be alive.

    My daughter will have every vaccine available to her. As a meningitis survivor (vaccine not available when I got it in college) I recognize the minuscule risk of a vaccine is much better than contracting the disease.

    • Christine Vara

      July 9, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Kristen,  So sorry to hear about your friend.  My daughter (who is just 19) recently told me about her friend who was diagnosed with HPV and has had to undergo painful procedures.  The saddest part was that she only had sex with one person, which just reinforces the fact that it can happen the first time.  

      As a meningitis survivor, I wanted you to know that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recently announced a permissive recommendation for a new meningitis vaccine that covers a different strain (serogroup B) than those covered in the current meningitis vaccine (strains A, C, Y, & W135).   This MengB vaccine would have to be administered as a different dose, but it is still nice to know that we are finding ways to prevent more strains of meningitis which, as you know, is such a horrifying and devastating diseases.  

      For more info you can read this coverage of the ACIP decision:  Best of luck to you and your friend!

  • Amanda

    July 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    Thank you for this! More people need to be educated about vaccines, especially one as crucial as the HPV vaccine!

  • Tracy

    July 8, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Thank you a jazillion times infinity for writing an accurate, informed, funny piece on such an important topic. Vaccination is an issue near and dear to my heart, because it has science and common sense behind it, and I run in parenting circles where it’s often nonetheless rejected. Drives me nuts. So THANK YOU again for standing up for vaccines. My son, when he is of the appropriate age, will be get the HPV vaccine as well. Followed by ice cream.

  • Cami

    July 8, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Thank you for this! #teamvaccine

  • Becca

    July 8, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I’m a cautious pro-vaccinator, meaning I delay a bit and spread out the live ones. I give major kudos to my mom; she’s a huge fan and practitioner of alternative medicine, but she always got us vaccinated, because her parents knew epidemic victims. I don’t know anyone who lived through the nasty epidemics of the 20th century but my background is history and it drives me to tears, how high the child mortality rate was, and it’s now preventable, and that is so amazing. So yes, get your kids vaccinated. Delay it (although if your kids are out in public, they should probably be caught up), spread it out if it makes you feel better, but do it.

    • traci

      July 9, 2015 at 12:42 pm

      Delaying or changing the schedule is not a great idea. The schedules are heavily researched and updated regularly to ensure that the vaccines are delivered at the safest and most effective time.  Unless you are qualified or capable of doing that kind of research yourself, I’d stick to the CDC schedule. 
      It’s not as risky as not vaccinating, but it is certainly a risky choice, especially because some vaccines don’t work as well if not given at certain times.

      I’m also big on holistic medicine, but my kid is vaccinated per the CDC schedule. I’m a hippy who loves science!

  • Lis

    July 8, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    Amy, I’ve been reading your posts since before you were pregnant with your first child and this may be my single favourite post you’ve ever written. I shared it on my facebook as well and it’s been the most active thing I’ve had on it all week – everybody agrees, this is fantastic.

  • Bernice

    July 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    I live in Australia, and I remember getting the shot when I was in high school. At the time, it was 3 shots spread over a couple of months. Not sure what the procedure is now…
    Anyway, I didn’t think twice about getting it then (like 6 years ago), and I won’t hesitate to get my daughter done when she reaches that age.

  • Stephanie

    July 8, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    thank you, thank you, thank you. I work on health-related legislation/lobbying at the CA State Capitol, and it was so disheartening to see all the misinformation spread by the anti-vaxxers during the debate on SB 277. Also, to see the vitriol and hatred toward the bill’s author, a state senator who is also a pediatrician. 

    My girls will absolutely 100% get the HPV vaccine when they’re old enough. #vaccineswork

  • Amostaf

    July 9, 2015 at 12:02 am

    You have talked about how great vaccines are so go ahead and vaccinate. I’m sad to hear 10 infants died from whooping cough in 2010; after all no one wants that. However there is this myth that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children are THE CAUSE of outbreaks, epidemics etc., etc. do you have any proof of that? Interestingly enough CDC has NO Unbiased third party double blind study that compares vaccinated with unvaccinated. Why not? May you also answer why the CDC has been under investigation since 2011 (by its own senior scientist who wants to be supeonad) for fraudulently covering up and autism after a MMR study? Or why the insurance carriers will never indemnify/insure vaccine makers? Or why $3.1 billion has been paid out since 1986 (prior to that they were being sue for injuries and deaths due to vaccines)? Why negate these facts? I did not see anything in you post explains the truth. What about aluminum, mercury, formaldyhide, and other preservatives and adjuvants in vaccine that are known neutotocins? What about African because of there hemogenous atmosphere and were vertually autism free are now experiencing an astonishing increase in autism? 600% increase in the US since 1983. 11-14 vaccines as opposed to 49 in today’s vaccines schedule. Have you read the inserts in the vaccines? Have you given this to patients? Do all pediatricians know what is in the vaccines and do they INFORM the parents? Dr. Pan who wrote the vaccine bill SB 277 didn’t? Don’t you see the irony? Oh, yes BTW there is public knowledge that Pan received $95,000 in 2013-2014; not bad for a rookie senator/ physician (just to answer the previous physician’s comment that they don’t receive $). Please get up to date with this. I have plenty more to say with scientific data that is irrifutable.

    • Lydia

      July 9, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Wait, where are these diseases coming from if they are NOT coming from the un-vaccinated?  Of course un-vaccinated children are part of that problem.  So are un-vaccinated adults.  How else would measles spread?  People who have been vaccinated are much less likely to spread it around.

    • vanessa

      August 6, 2015 at 8:09 am

      Congrats, you are part of the problem that is killing children.

  • Ericha

    July 9, 2015 at 1:38 am


  • A scientist

    July 9, 2015 at 9:56 am

    As a practicing scientist, this is a reply to Amostaf. Anytime I hear a phrase such as “irrefutable scientific evidence” in this context, I KNOW the claims are questionable. Science just doesn’t work that way – it is most often a slow and frustrating path to understanding with a lot of “I don’t knows” and questions along the way. It scares me that ignorance can so easily replace advances that scientists and physicians have worked so hard for so many years to make a reality.

    Both myself and my children are as fully vaccinated as possible because just the thought of a tension-filled hospital stay or a funeral that could have been prevented by a simple vaccination brings me almost to tears. If my children were to transmit a life-threatening disease due to my inaction, that would haunt me for the rest of my life.

  • Holly W.

    July 9, 2015 at 10:38 am

    THANK YOU. I think it is not coincidental that the rise of anti-vaxers is directly tied to the timeline of Internet prevalence – where anybody can write anything and call it fact 😉 And it breaks my heart every time a dear friend, who is really and truly trying to wade through the insane amount of trash out there identifying itself as fact, posts articles (that are poorly written and not-at-all researched, to boot) about this vaccine, how pharmaceutical CEOs confess to the conspiracy theory, good gosh, even an article stating that the safety of vaccines has never been studied or proven. It makes my blood boil, and I have to remove the post from my news feed lest I use the social media world inappropriately and lash out (because arguing online always = success). 

    As another commenter said, I’m a longtime reader and you even answered one of my own questions here recently, and still, THIS is my FAVORITE post. Thank you. I’m on board with the #vaccineswork hashtag, but I think it would be an even better PR move if it was #savethebabies 🙂

  • an attorney

    July 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you for this post!  “I have SO MUCH RAGE at him, for causing a full-on public health crisis where people are so terrified of having a child “like mine” that they’ll put children at risk of DYING of TERRIBLE DISEASES.”  – Amen!

    At Amostaf.  A subpoena is just a court order compelling someone to testify.  A former CDC president who wishes to testify would request a subpoena so they would be called.  It has nothing to with an investigation or what he or she would say.  As far as insurance carriers refusing to cover vaccine makers, this is likely because a scientist is not required to carry malpractice insurance because they do no have patients (much like how government attorneys do not carry malpractice insurance because they do not have clients).  I am wondering what your sources are and if they actually did a thorough investigation with the appropriate background education to appropriately analyze the issues.

  • Bethany

    July 9, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Background: VERY pro-vaccine, magna cum laude degree in biology, eight years’ experience in an immunology research lab, graduate work in immunology.

    The only issue I have with Gardasil is that almost everyone who talks about it seems to think that it prevents ALL HPV-caused cancers. This isn’t accurate. It does protect against MOST HPV-caused cancers, which is great, but there are over 100 strains of HPV. Most of them don’t cause cervical cancer – the big bad ones that do are 6, 11, 16, and 18, which are covered by Gardasil – but there are multiple other strains that do cause neoplasm (abnormal tissue growth, aka tumor in these cases). So just be aware that there are many strains of HPV that are not covered by Gardasil.
    As the mom of a little boy (soon to be two little boys), I will most likely get him vaccinated. (Sorry for the long block of text – anyone else having issues with the enter button not starting a new paragraph?)

  • dregina

    July 9, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you Amalah! Hooray for vaccines! 

  • Momof2boys

    July 9, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you Amy! Great post.. I am going to share with my friends.

  • meri

    July 10, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Thank you! I’ll never forget my little brother coughing and coughing when he caught whooping cough. He couldn’t complete that set of vaccines because of a bad reaction.

    I talked with my doctor about getting Gardasil, but I was a few years older than the cutoff and $300 was out of my reach at the time. I wish I’d found the money somewhere.

  • Fani

    July 10, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Last year my sister was diagnosed with cervical cancer, at age 32. She didn’t have kids yet and she was in a serious relationship for ages. Her doctor insisted on her having a hysterectomy and after a long search among other doctors she finally got only her cervix removed. She has still various problems since her operation and if she manages to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, her pregnancy wil be extremely high risk. All this could be avoided if a vaccination was available when she was a teenager. So, don’t think over it, because the consequences are so grave that the vaccination is a no minder.

  • Lissy

    July 10, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Excellent post! I too plan on vaccinating my son when he’s older. I was one of the first to receive the hpv vaccine and my mom paid out of pocket because insurance didn’t cover it yet because it was that important for her to protect me from cancer.

  • Cheryl S.

    July 10, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Thank you Amy.  My daughter has had all of her vaccines on time and never had a bad reaction. She’s turning 10 and so I know the question of the HPV vaccine is in my near future. Because of the all the internet crazy, I was actually a bit worried about getting it for her.  This sentence was a SMH moment for me:

    And then we get a vaccine for a cancer that is the third most common cancer for women worldwide, and kills over 300,000 women a year (not to mention the  related cancers that men can get!) and we’re all collectively like, eh, I dunno. I think I’ll pass.

    As Gru said in Despicable Me: LIGHTBULB.

    Thank you.  

  • Emily

    July 10, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    Yes yes yes! Just as an FYI, Belle Gibson has been exposed as a complete phony

    It’s people like this who do so much damage. Even though we now know that she never had cancer, her bogus claims and lies are still out there all over the Internet for anyone to claim and use as evidence for why they choose not to vaccinate.

  • Emily

    July 10, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    I also had the vaccine as a teenager in Australia, I don’t remember any uproar about it at the time, it seemed like the normal thing to do and I don’t remember any of my friends refusing it.

  • Sara

    July 11, 2015 at 9:26 am

    I love you. Both as a pediatric nurse and regular human being with a brain. So many people at the practice where I work resist this vaccine, and the wonderful doc I work for proceeds to hand them all their balls. Also I have given a zillion HPV shots in my day and the worst side effect I have seen is a sore arm. I will gladly give the vaccine to my own two boys when they are 12, per CDC recommendation. 

  • Amie

    July 14, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    There should be a “like” button.

    A decade ago, I juuuust squeaked under the upper age limit and got myself the HPV series. And I’ll be dragging my daughters in to get theirs as soon as they’re old enough.

    • Isabel Kallman

      Isabel Kallman

      July 14, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      There is a “Like” button. It’s at the bottom. Please “like” us and then tell all of your smart friends. It really makes our day and helps us out. The biggest compliment you can give us is recommending us as a resource to your friends. 🙂

  • Rachel

    May 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Although I love just about everything Amala writes, I think her best responses are about vaccines. I agree 100% with what is said here! I received all 3 rounds of Gardasil when it was released and I will 100% have my son vaccinated when he reaches the recommended age. Kudos to Amala for once again expressing an evidence-based opinion on such an important topic!