Boys should get HPV vaccine too, panel says

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Health, US News

MIKE STOBBE
Associated Press
October 25, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) — The controversial HPV shot given to girls should also be given to boys, in part to help prevent the spread of the virus through sex, a government medical panel said Tuesday.

The expensive vaccine, which protects females against cervical cancer, hasn’t been popular. And doctors admit it will be a tough sell to parents of 11- and 12-year-old males, too.

For males, the vaccine is licensed to prevent genital warts and anal cancer. Experts say another key benefit of routinely vaccinating boys could be preventing the spread of the human papilloma virus to others through sex – making up somewhat for the disappointing vaccination rate in girls.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made the recommendation Tuesday. Federal health officials usually adopt what the panel says and asks doctors and patients to follow the advice.

The vaccine has been available to boys for two years but Tuesday’s vote was the first to strongly recommend routine vaccination. Officials acknowledged the disappointing rate in girls encouraged them to take a new, hard look.

Just 49 percent of adolescent girls have gotten at least the first of the recommended three HPV shots, which have been recommended for girls for five years. Only a third had gotten all three doses by last year.

“Pretty terrible,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administrator who oversees the agency’s immunization programs.

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