Discussing your son’s sexual health is not always a comfortable subject for parents, but Scott & White pediatrician, Phillip G. Itkin, MD, FAAP said it is important to know how to protect your son and those he will come in contact with.
One of the ways that Dr. Itkin and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends protecting your child is by having him receive the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
“There are multiple reasons why young boys should be vaccinated,” Dr. Itkin said. “The first one is that boys tend to carry the disease and give it to female sexual partners. If you’re vaccinating girls to prevent them from getting HPV, then it only makes sense to vaccinate males who potentially carry it to the female partner.”
And it isn’t just girls who can develop cancers and other ailments from HPV, the pediatrician said. Boys can also develop illnesses like genital warts and neck and throat cancers if they contract the sexually transmitted disease.
How safe is the vaccine?
“The vaccine appears to be very safe. It’s made the same way that a lot of other vaccines are made,” Dr. Itkin said. “There appears to be no [bad] side effects.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 40 million doses of one strain of the HPV vaccine (quadrivalent) have been distributed in the U.S.
Most of the known complications are mild including: pain at injection site, fever, headache and nausea. Some fainting has also been reported, but the CDC said there isn’t necessarily a link between the vaccine and the instances of fainting. However, they recommend sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes after the vaccination to help prevent fainting related injuries.
Will the HPV Vaccine Be a Requirement in the Future?
“I don’t know if it will be a requirement as such to go to school—not like meningitis,” the pediatrician said. “But I think it will be a recommendation that all children should have it.”
In fact, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are already recommending that both girls and boys, at around age 11 or 12, be vaccinated.
The HPV vaccine, Gardasil, is licensed to be safe and effective for males ages 9 through 26 and can be given at your child’s doctor’s office.
In order to protect your son and the population as a whole, it is important that all young boys receive this vaccine in the appropriate time frame, the pediatrician said.
For more information about the HPV vaccine, visit Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.