An advisory panel of the CDC recommended this week that boys between the ages of 11 and 12 should be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) with Gardasil. Previously, the recommendation was that only girls should be vaccinated.
HPV is now the most common sexually transmitted disease - over 70% of all adults will be infected at some time in their lives. Most people recover without any ill effects, however chronic infection in some people can lead to cancer. Gardasil was recommended for girls when it became available in 2006, because chronic HPV infection was known at the time to be a leading cause of cervical cancer. But new information reveals that HPV is responsible for some cancers in men, too, including cancers of the penis, anus, and throat.
Health officials don’t expect a huge rush to vaccinate boys, however. Only about 30% of the girls of eligible age are fully vaccinated so far, despite the fact that the vaccine has been available for six years. Gardasil sparked controversy from the very start – it’s a vaccine against a sexually transmitted disease, and some parents worried that it encourages the notion of sexual activity at too young an age. Other parents are against all vaccinations. In addition, Gardasil is expensive – more than $400 for the full series of three required shots.
What do YOU think - should Gardasil be part of the standard vaccination regimen for all children?