Should My Daughter Get The Gardasil Vaccine?

By Dannah Gresh, Creator of Secret Keeper Girl

Recently, I read an article where the author stated that the Bible lays out an overriding Christian principle that has been used to defend vaccination.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”…“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:30-31).

Rachel Marie Stone offered her viewpoint in Christianity Today’s women’s blog, Her.meneutics.

I’m concerned that so many people seem willing to let others carry the supposed burden of vaccination so that they don’t have to. To me, that’s a failure of the commandment to love our neighbors: our infant neighbors, our elderly neighbors, and our immune-compromised neighbors. That’s a disease of the soul for which the only treatment is love—best shown in the God who became man to bear our infirmities in his own body.

Truly, Jesus told us we should not love ourselves more than we love others. I think it’s fair to at least consider the fact that vaccinations are a practical way to love our neighbors well. (Ask someone who lived through the polio epidemic what they think of vaccines?) Does that make the decision an easy one? Unfortunately, no.

Though I’ve never liked one single shot in the arm that my children had to receive for the good of mankind, they are up to date in all recommended vaccinations…with one exception: Gardasil.

I write a lot about what God’s word says about sex. Therefore, I’m often fielding questions on related topics including the HPV vaccination, Gardasil, which the Center For Disease Control recommends for girls and boys aged 11 and 12 (though it can be given as early as year nine). I’m not a medical professional, and you should seek the advice of a variety of professionals in the field before you make a decision, because you will find their opinions varied. Here are a four questions I considered as well as some links to those whose opinion I sought before decided that I would not administer the vaccine to my girls.

What is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States of America. It is a common denominator in all cases of cervical cancer. There are approximately 150 strains of the virus, of which 40 or so are spread through sexual contact. The human body is capable of clearing the infection. 70% of cases clear within one year. 90% within two. Of the remaining 10%, about half will experience cervical cancer within 10-15 years. PAP tests are used to detect pre-cancerous cells. Cervical cancer is treatable.

What is Gardasil?

Gardasil is a vaccine that protects users from four of the many strains of HPV. These strains are responsible for about 70-75% of cervical cancer (depending on which source you cite). Seventy percent sounds like a big number so it’s important to look at the risk of cervical cancer more closely. About 8 in 100,000 women experience cervical cancer each year. There are 1.9-3.7 deaths per year per 100,000 women as a result. One death is too many and every effort should be made to prevent these deaths, but questions need to be asked in terms of the efficacy of Gardasil. and the risk to each vaccinated user before a final decision should be made for each individual.

What are the risks of Gardisil?

The Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization stands by its opinion that the drug is safe for use. Their reports state that between June 2006 and March 2013,  21,194 recievers of the vaccination reported adverse reactions. Most of these were considered “non-serious.” Proponents of the vaccination state the the only weak link in the plan to eliminate cervical cancer is that doctors are failing to recommend the vaccination. The question must be asked: why?

Many credible American groups have made public statements that the drug is dangerous. Reports of adverse reactions range from dizziness and headaches to seizures. The country of Japan has withdrawn its support of the drug. While it will not pull the vaccination, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare no longer recommends the drug and those who receive it must be made well aware of the high risk of adverse reactions. In Japan, there are 1,968 cases that the ministry labels adverse and many are labeled as “severe” including “long term pain and numbness and infertility and paralysis.” In August 2013, the Australian equivalent of the FDA concluded that the maker of Gardasil did not adequately test the impact of the drug on the reproductive system of women. A report in the British Medical Journal reported pre-mature ovarian failure in a sixteen-year-old as a result of the vaccination.

What Should I Do?

There is no doubt that something has to be done about the widespread sexually transmitted disease that results in so much cancer. But is this vaccination the right choice for everyone? My choice has been to talk to my children early and thoroughly about the risk of sex outside of marriage. The choice to abstain from sex until marriage is the only 100 percent proven way to avoid a sexually transmitted disease. While none of us can guarantee that our children choose this option, Bob and I are convinced that this is the best way for us to love our neighbors and teach our children to do so. This decision is not an easy one. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s black-and-white. It’s not. What is easy to decide is that sex outside of a lifetime committed relationship has extremely high risk.

Do I fear that one of them will get raped or be overcome in a moment of passion? I could, but I’m not a mom who chooses to let fear govern her choices. I’ve taken my girls to African nations where malaria, consumption, and yellow fever are risks. (We all have yellow fever vaccination cards as proof of our steadfast commitment to protect the American population on our return home.) I realize that the risk of accident or traumatic injury is higher than any risk of an adverse reaction to any vaccination. (And I know you can die from drinking too much water.)

My decision on this has given me a great deal of peace. I hope you can also make a decision for your children that brings you peace.

“To vaccinate or not to vaccinate” is one of The 20 Hardest Questions Every Mom Faces: Praying Your Way To Realistic, Biblical Answers.


Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl Tour is a faith-based mother-daughter connecting experience. This 2 1/2 hour event features two fun fashion shows that demonstrate modesty and true beauty, deep Bible teaching, live worship, and stories that help girls aged 7-12 embrace true beauty and modesty. Incredible balloon sculptures, bouncing beach ball competitions, mother/daughter conversation time & colorful confetti cannons make the night unforgettable. Click the video below for a sneak peak.

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh is the best-selling author, speaker , and creator of Secret Keeper Girl, America’s most popular tween stage show for moms and daughters. Dannah has authored 27 books, including And the Bride Wore White, and Lies Young Women Believe (with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth) and is considered one of the leading experts on the subjects of sexual purity, modesty, and true beauty. More than 350,000 people have attended her live events. She has been a guest on CNN, Fox News, and the 700 Club and is a frequent guest on Focus on the Family and Family Life. Her TEDTalk on tolerance for virginity offers thought-provoking look at why sexuality is enhanced by self-control. She lives in State College, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bob on a hobby farm with a menagerie of animals. The couple has four young adult children.

Isabel - September 4, 2013

What if something unfortunate was to happen to your little girl? ex. get raped/assaulted? You have no control over what other people do or might do.

Tristi - September 4, 2013

Thanks for this. Our pediatrician just presented me with this question this past summer for my 11-year-old daughter. While he told me to think about it for now, I wanted more information on it.

    Kelsey H - September 4, 2013

    Tristi, I urge you to do some thorough research before vaccinating your daughter with Gardasil. There are over 100 known strains of HPV and Gardasil only claims to protect against four. It has been definitively connected to infertility and the list of symptoms above is only the tip of the iceberg. Below are several articles from a reputable organization. Each article has thoroughly documented sources. Please read them.





      Dr. Thomson - June 10, 2015

      These website that you list are not legitimate sources of information. Please do not advocate against vaccines using unscientific articles printed online in a .com website. If you want information regarding this vaccine, or any vaccine, please visit the website of the CDC, read peer-reviewed medical journals and/or discuss this issue with your doctor. It is unfortunate how much false information is being passed around on the internet.

        Dannah Gresh - July 1, 2015

        Dr Thomson, thanks for this opinion. We do agree that medical journals are a great place to find information. The challenge on this one is that there’s just so much consumer concern. And consumer response/experience is a vital form of evaluation. That said, here is a link to a peer reviewed medical journal summary that supports what we have published here in this blog: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/1/prweb9112116.htm

          Kelli - June 22, 2016

          The CDC is funded by big pharm. No, not directly bc that would be conflict of interest but they are funded by them indirectly. The CDC is a great source for information, but using them as a sole source is very one sided. Those patients with real life experiences are also a valuable source.

          Yes I know there will be those who disagree, but for example, if you look back at the numbers for pre flu vaccine push and the numbers now since we are pushed for flu vaccine there are no more or less cases of the flu than before big pharm convinced the CDC to push this. It’s a big money maker for big pharm and the CDC also reaps the benefit.

          Now having said that, I am def not anti vaccine! There are those that have proven to be beneficial with little to no side effects. I just happen to have read many sources on Gardesil and spoke to many physicians and agree with this article.

evie - September 9, 2013

I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post. I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty for not wanting my 13 and 16 yr old be vaccinated. I had made my decision based on the research I did, but when everyone around us didn’t seem to think much about the matter, I felt like I was being very paranoid.

Maria - October 21, 2013

Hello everyone 🙂 I know this is an old post but I just wanted to add my story. I have been married for 10 years to the only man I have ever been with. We have 4 children and a very loving faith filled relationship. My husband did have one other partner in college but never had any indication of an std. Two years ago my doctor found abnormal cells due to hpv and tomorrow I begin my journey in cancer treatment. HPV can be dormant for years men can have it without any signs or symptoms. The vaccine prevents th e most dangerous strains. Having yout daughter vaccinated against HPV has nothing.to do with wether or not you think she’ll engage in high risk behavior, on the contrary it shows responsibility for a possible eventuality that could be completely out of her control.

    Ashley - December 13, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your story! Choosing to not vaccinate your daughters is assuming they will be able to protect themselves from rape, or husbands who may enter into marriage without being virgins.

    I wish people sharing information about this vaccine would simply speak directly to their doctors. All of my adolescent nieces and nephews are getting vaccinated, which I think is an excellent choice by my sisters. It is NOT a choice which promotes or condones promiscuity or non-monogamous relationships.

    paula - July 18, 2014

    Totally agree with you!!! It would be ignorant not to vaccinate our children! Good luck with your treatment.

      Kim Robinson - July 30, 2014

      After allowing my 11 year old daughter to receive the first Gardasil vaccine in the series of three, I found out what true ingorance really means. I allowed this vaccine to be injected into my daughter without even spending one minute investigating the ingredients (some of which are known neurotoxins to humans), reading the vaccine insert itself (which if you unfold it and hold it up is longer than the height of some adults) which describes possible adverse events and the volumes of evidence that is amassing and readily available should anyone really want to know if this vaccine is safe. The truth of the matter is that this vaccine is very dangerous for some and no one in the CDC, FDA or Merck have been able to explain why. My daughter has been chronically ill since September 2010 – unable to attend school since April 2011. She struggles everyday to cope with endless pain and other debilitating symptoms. Its been 4 years — everyday she looses more of her childhood. She is 15 now and should be starting high school and enjoying normal teenage activities but instead she spends most of the day swallowing fistfuls of medicine and supplements and laying down or sleeping trying to cope with chronic illness. Two doctors have confirmed that Gardasil was the cause of her illness. Our family is destroyed financially and emotionally. Will our daughter ever be able to regain her health? It is a question that I’ve been asking myself for more than 1,400 days now! The truth is the efficacy of this vaccine is questionable, at best. If you look up VAERS (a public reporting of vaccine injuries) you will see that girls that have been vaccinated have reported cervical cancer — the very thing this vaccine is suppose to prevent. The best prevention for cervical cancer is still to get annual pap smears — even for those that have recieved Gardasil because the efficacy is not yet proven. Allowing Gardasil is like gambling on your daughter’s life. Everyday I wish I would have known more. I never would have knowingly gambled on my daughter’s life — that would have been truly ingorant!

        Dannah Gresh - July 31, 2014

        I’m so sorry that your family has experienced this terrible tragedy. I’m praying, friend. The Lord can heal your daughter. Thank you for being brave to share your story with us. -Dannah Gresh

        Rachael - April 2, 2016

        Absolutely! I have researched & my daughters will NOT get this vaccine. Unfortunately your daughter is not the first I have heard this happen to. I personally do not believe this vaccine is safe. Thank you for sharing your story & I will be praying for your daughter. I’m so sorry she (& your entire family) is dealing with this! Parents – Please research thoroughly! Don’t just take your Doctors word for it!

nancy - July 18, 2014

it’s important to consider the future mate as well… it is possible that your son or daughter abstains but his/her future spouse does not… when you engage in intercourse with someone… you are sleeping with everyone they have slept with before you… it’s a tough call but ultimately so far my children have chosen for themselves at 18…

Anonymous - July 18, 2014

The woman who developed the Guardasil vaccine would not get her own daughter vaccinated with it. She gave a speech and, in not so many words, said she would never risk getting her daughter(s) vaccinated with it. I think that speaks volumes. Good luck with your treatment, Maria, I hope it is effective.

Sarah - July 19, 2014

“It is a common denominator in all cases of cervical cancer.” This statement is not true. I developed cervical cancer and have no history of HPV.

Amy - June 9, 2015

I have two daughters, ages14 and 11. I also have two sons, ages 19 and 22. I made the decision not to give this vaccine to any of my children. I felt that there was too much contradictory information and overall the risks of side effects seem too great to me to knowingly put my children at risk for them. I am not ignorant about cancer, as my family has experienced many different kinds, too many. Nor am I anti-vaccine either. My children all received all of the other pediatrician recommended vaccines. Even the one for the chicken pox. What I find interesting about those vaccines and this one, is not that this one has anything to do with an STD, but that all of the others are proven to protect against diseases and illness that can wipe out large numbers of the population if left unvaccinated. They create a large social medical problems and in vaccinating against them we are essentially helping to take care of not just our own body, but the health and safety of others as well. I know that none of us are perfect, this is not a perfect world and people will continue to make poor decisions. I think that cancer is horrific, it really and truly is evil. I am just not convinced that this is something I need to impose on my children when I find so much controversy around it. I am just NOT sold and so I feel I am going against the grain but I will not subject my children to it.

Franka Hopwood - June 9, 2015

i believe in informed consent. Do you read food labels before giving it to your children? You should read the insert to the Gardasil vaccine. Especially 13.1 got my attention. Gardasil’s carcinogenicity or genotoxicity has not been evaluated. In other words, that study is being done on our daughters. When I researched the role of aluminum adjuvants in Gardasil and how they are designed to set up an immune response to the HPV, I understood why I didn’t want my daughter exposed to that level of toxicity. As Christian parents, we need to do our research and ask God to help us make our decisions. Simply taking the advice of a doctor (even a Christian doctor) is not enough in my opinion. Here is the link to the Gardasil package insert from Merck:

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