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HPV Vaccine for Boys

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Hot off the presses! I just received an email from a friend who attended the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) meetings at the CDC in Atlanta. The ACIP voted to “recommend the routine use of the human papillomavirus quadrivalent vaccine (HPV4) in boys aged 11 to 12 years.”

This is important news for our children in that the ACIP had previously discussed the use of HPV 4 in males and in 2009 provided guidance that the vaccine “could be” used in males 9 – 26 years of age, but did not state it should be routinely recommended.

The waters are no longer muddy: vaccinate both boys and girls.

HPV is the number one sexually transmitted disease in the United States and data shows that up to 50% of sexually active people will acquire HPV at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, not everyone who gets HPV (remember it is a virus) can clear the infection and some individuals will go on to develop precancerous and cancerous lesions.

I’ve had many parents ask “why should I vaccinate my child when they are only 11 years old?”  Of course YOUR child is not having sex at this age, some may not have even had THE TALK yet!

Unfortunately, there are kids having sex before they are ready and this includes children as young as 11 years (or even younger). In order for the vaccine to be most effective it must be given before your child is exposed to the virus. Therefore the recommendation is to give it at 11-12 years, although it is also approved to be used in children as young as 9 years if warranted. The vaccine does not treat disease, and it only prevents disease if you are vaccinated.

HPV is sexually transmitted and by immunizing both girls and boys the back and forth of this virus may be prevented. Until the vaccination rates are higher for both sexes there will not be a significant change in the rates of cervical cancer or genital warts. Just like other infectious diseases, vaccine uptake is required to decrease disease transmission.

With this latest recommendation one can hope that both boys and girls will be protected prior to their exposure later in life.  And yes, it is a three shot series so make sure you complete all three.

That’s’ your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

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