We hope reports that a cervical cancer vaccine is among the most painful of childhood shots does not discourage girls from getting the vaccine.
As more girls and young women are given the Gardasil vaccine, reports are increasing about the pain caused by the shots and even incidents of girls fainting after receiving the shot -- although the fainting spells may not be caused by the vaccine itself. While the pain is short-lived for most, some teens say it is uncomfortable to use the injected arm for up to a day after getting the shot.
Even the vaccine's developers concede that it stings a bit. They attribute the pain to the virus-like particles in the shot.
But the minor pain is a small price to pay for the protection afforded by the vaccine. This vaccine blocks four primary strains of the human papillomavirus, which are known to cause cervical cancer and genital warts. By some estimates, more than half of all sexually active persons will be infected by HPV during their lifetimes, and nationwide, nearly 4,000 of them will die of cervical cancer each year.
Researchers believe that the vaccine could prevent up to 70 percent of all cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. Gardasil has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for girls ages 9 to 26, and obviously it is wise to administer the disease before girls become sexually active.
Girls may have to endure a little pain when they are inoculated -- or even faint -- but that is far preferable to enduring the risk of a life-threatening but preventable disease.
Girls should not avoid getting the cervical cancer vaccine despite fact that it stings a little.