Last week, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made a recommendation to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all 11 and 12-year-old males be vaccinated against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The vaccination has been available and recommended for girls since 2006.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, states, at the October 25th press briefing,
About 20 million Americans are currently infected with human papilloma virus or HPV. HPV has been associated with several types of cancer. Cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus as well as head and neck cancer. Each year in the U.S about 18,000 HPV associated cancers affect women. Cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer that HPV can cause in women. About 7,000 HPV associated cancers each year affect men in the United States. Cancers of the head and neck are the most common type of cancers in men. HPV can also cause most cases of genital warts in both men and women and about one in 100 sexually active adults in the United States has genital warts at any one time. So these are common conditions.
There has been a tremendous amount of controversy over the issue since the recommendation that young girls receive the vaccine, in 2006. A few years ago, Texas Governor Rick Perry came under scrutiny for his Executive Order mandating the vaccination of all sixth grade girls. Parents were outraged that the right of decision was being taken away from them. (I agree this was over the top.)
To protect on not protect, that is the question?
It seems that much of the controversy stems out of fear that vaccinating against a sexually transmitted disease will somehow encourage sexual activity. So, do we wait for sexual activity to protect our children against a disease that is a result of sexual activity? By that thinking, we should wait for polio, diptheria, or tuberculosis before we act. Yet, it would be too late then, right? What is the difference? According to Schuchat,
The greatest impact can be had when the vaccine is given at ages 11 or 12 where there is a better immune response compared with older ages. The vaccine is most effective when it is given before there is exposure to the virus which occurs through sexual contact. So that’s the rationale for recommending this routinely for 11 or 12–year–olds.
Protecting against sexually transmitted diseases is equally the responsibility of the male and female. All praise to the women that carries her own condoms and even more to the women that uses the female condom. (Who better to think of me, than me?)
Giving the vaccine to my boy (in a few years) will protect him and anyone that he with whom he decides to physically connect. Although we do not wish to think of children as being sexually active at such a young age, I know it happens and is not new to these times. When I was a teen, I met an 11 year old mother while working at the YMCA in St. Louis, Mo. It happens.
My first inclination is to protect my children against everything. If I could send them outside in full body armor, I would. As a matter of fact, maybe I wouldn’t send them outside at all if the break didn’t do me good.
What say you?
- Boys Should Get HPV Vaccine Too, CDC Says (livescience.com)
- Panel recommends HPV shot in boys (bbc.co.uk)
- Boys urged to get HPV vaccine | Wausau Daily Herald | wausaudailyherald.com.