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The North Wind

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Mackayle Weedon
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My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

HPV vaccine benefits outweigh risks

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Anyone paying any attention to television over the past year or so, has no doubt seen commercials advertising the Gardasil vaccine. They tend to feature young women and girls of all backgrounds, touting their reasons for choosing to get vaccinated.

And I am one of the young women who chose to get vaccinated. But why did I choose to get the Gardasil vaccine? It’s simple; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Gardasil is the first ever gender-specific vaccine and is targeted at girls and women ages 11-26. The series of three shots prevents four strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Two of those four strains, HPV 16 and 18, cause 70 percent of cervical cancers; the other two strains, HPV 6 and 11, cause 90 percent of genital warts according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

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HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, infecting an estimated 6.2 million Americans a year.

In men, HPV can cause genital warts, as it does in women, but in women, it can also lead to certain types of cervical cancer. Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women, causing an estimated 233,000 deaths a year according to the CDC.

When the vaccine was released, my mom, a nurse, immediately insisted that I receive it. We waited until my insurance company would pick up the cost, as Gardasil, like most vaccines, runs a high price tag. But I still got it as soon as I could.

Most vaccines have a risk of side effects, both major and minor. For me, I had some mild pain and stinging at the injection site, and my entire arm was sore for days afterward. Both of these, along with swelling, are common side effects, but should not hold someone back from getting vaccinated.

Of all the reported side effects, only 6 percent of those 9,749 reported were serious according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a group monitored by the CDC. Some of the more serious side effects include fainting and blood clots. The vaccine has yet to be directly correlated to any deaths.

As with most new vaccines, there is not much information available right now about the long-term side effects related to receiving the shot. And while this was a concern for me, I was much more swayed by the current facts. According to the CDC, Gardasil is 100 percent effective at preventing infections which are the cause of most cervical cancers.

In a press release put out by the CDC last week, 25 percent of girls aged 13-17 received the vaccine in its first year on the market. And while 25 percent is a good start, that number is just not high enough.

Some opponents of Gardasil complain that giving girls as young as 11 a vaccination against an STI will contribute to promiscuity. This argument is faulty at best. Why would parents not want to protect their daughter against cancer and disease as thoroughly as possible? The vaccine is simply more effective when given during the recommended time. It is important that people are not ignorant of the real facts; Gardasil is safe and effective.

Although the ideal age for beginning the series of three shots is between 11 and 12, the vaccine can still be effective for college aged women who are already sexually active.

I was fortunate enough to have someone push me to get vaccinated. I was also smart enough to check out the facts, and those facts prove that the good things about the vaccine offset the bad.

Gardasil is not a panacea for gynecological health, and women should still have yearly check ups, but it is a big step to toward taking care of yourself.

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