HPV Vaccinations Now Recommended for Boys
There has been a lot of discussion between doctors and parents about the HPV vaccine over the years to protect girls from different strains of the virus.
Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending all boys ages 11 and up to also have routine HPV vaccinations.
Since 2006, girls have been encouraged to get the three-dose vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. However, HPV has recently been linked with certain other types of cancers such as some head, neck and anal cancers that can affect boys as well.
Doctors say the vaccine is best when administered before a child becomes sexually active. Still, men 21 and older should still be vaccinated if they did not do so earlier, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Women who are 26 and older should also consider getting the shots.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all sexually active people will catch genital HPV at some point. It is noted to be the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S.
Not every strain of HPV, or human papillomavirus, results in cancer. Sometimes, the infection does not cause any symptoms and disappears on its own. However, HPV 16 and 18 are responsible for thousands of cases of cancer in men and women every year.
The vaccines protect boys from genital warts and anal cancer, although the protection is not absolute. The AAP also says that vaccinating boys could indirectly shield women from getting the virus in the first place.
The possible side effects including weakness, fever, tingling, itching, and hives, have some parents reluctant to have their children injected. Despite these risks, researchers believe the benefits of the vaccination are important.
The three-shot regime costs about $360 altogether.