U.S. panel: Boys should get HPV vaccine, too

October 25, 2011

The Associated Press


ATLANTA — A government panel is recommending that young boys also get the HPV shot. That's the vaccine now given to girls to prevent cervical cancer, which has become embroiled in the politics of the Republican presidential primary season.

Doctors argue that it could protect boys against genital warts and some kinds of cancers. But they also say vaccinating 11- and 12-year old boys could also help prevent the spread of the sexually transmitted virus to girls.

The HPV vaccine has been controversial since it was recommended for girls five years ago. And only about a third of adolescent girls have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

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 recommendations.

Attempts to require the vaccine for American girls sparked debate and complaints that such mandates intrude on family decisions about sex education. In Texas, lawmakers fought off a 2007 order by Gov. Rick Perry requiring the shots for sixth-grade girls amid questions about vaccine's safety, efficacy and cost. Perry's Republican opponents have made the vaccine an issue in the primary.