Deciding to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was a no-brainer for me. I heard about it on the news and when I did my research, I found the benefits far outweighed the risks.
I was 19 years old and finishing my senior year of high school. I remember talking about it with my girlfriends at lunch. To my surprise, not everyone was in favor of the vaccine.
One friend in particular was not shy to voice her negative opinion. She said she'd discussed the vaccine with her parents, and that they'd heard from friends that it caused mental retardation.
"Both my doctor and my parents feel strongly about the vaccine's benefits," I responded.
It was hard for me to imagine this alleged harmful effect when I listened to my parents and physician, and had done a lot of research on my own.
The consensus in the scientific literature was that the vaccine prevents cervical cancer. Each day in America, 30 women are diagnosed with the disease.
The HPV vaccine helps protect against two types of HPV that cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases. As for the claims that the vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation. The American Academy of Pediatrics says, "There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement. Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record."