The vaccine phobia

There are more than 200 kinds of HPVs and a majority can be spread through sexual contact


Nashmia Butt February 24, 2016

It is important to spread awareness on health issues in our country. Health authorities from all over the country are now focusing on spreading more knowledge about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine.

There are more than 200 kinds of HPVs and a majority can be spread through sexual contact. Some HPVs, if not treated, can eventually lead to changes in cells in our body which in turn can cause cancer. There are many different forms of cancers that can be caused by HPVs, including cervical and anal to name but a few.

Doctors often recommend that people get the HPV vaccine immediately after they become sexually active, as these shots decrease the chances of an individual contracting an HPV. In fact, it is also advised that young girls get this vaccine before they get married, as this can help safeguard their health in the future.

The major problem here lies with our mindset as a society. I initiated a discussion with a bunch of women and men regarding these shots and whether they would want to get themselves vaccinated.

Most of them were not even aware of the existence of these shots. Then there were those who were afraid of getting them. I heard responses such as the standard “What if they lead to infertility?”, and then there was also “I won’t let my daughter get them till she is married, she is too young right now”.

I fail to understand the concept of fearing medical help or vaccinations. If a vaccine has been discovered and has been tested and approved, then why does our cultural mindset instill in us a fear of being administered the shot?

It has been the same story with anti-polio virus drops. There are significant sections of the Pakistani population that feel that polio drops are a form of contraception and may be against our religion and that they may be our government’s way of tackling the problem of overpopulation.

What is needed is an increased awareness regarding such issues. Medical camps should be set up around the country, educating individuals in the simplest manner, and explaining to them the benefits of all kinds of vaccines. We should encourage people to look after their health, to seek help when required and certainly not fear scientific progress. The concept of vaccinations should be encouraged.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2016.

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