HPV Vaccine for Boys?
Jennifer C. Norman, MD, is a pediaitrician at Loveland Pediatrics in Loveland, Colo. She can be reached at (970) 663-5437
Question: I recently heard that the HPV vaccine is now available for boys. Should I have my pre-teen son vaccinated?
Answer: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common infection with about 100 different types. Some types produce warts, such as common hand warts and plantar warts on the feet.
About 40 types of HPV can infect the genital area in both males and females, causing genital warts and cancers. HPV can lead to cervical cancer in females and penile and anal cancers in males. In recent years a vaccine became recommended for girls beginning at age 11 to prevent cervical cancer and genital warts.
Last year the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved and licensed the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) for boys ages 9 to 26.
The Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) states that it may be given to boys to reduce their chance of getting genital warts. However the ACIP does not currently recommend HPV vaccine for routine use in boys.
If parents ask their child’s pediatrician for the vaccine, the pediatrician is free to give it to him, but it is not yet part of the recommended routine vaccinations.
Studies have shown that the HPV vaccine is effective in reducing genital warts caused by the virus in males. Before it is universally recommended for males, studies will need to show that it is effective in preventing cancers caused by HPV.
Whether you decide to have your son vaccinated is your choice. Talk with your pediatrician to decide. Insurance companies may not cover it at this time, because it is not a recommended vaccination. The cost can range from $100- $200.
Reviewed December 2010