Attention parents of preteen boys: The Centers for Disease Control is now recommending that the boys, not just girls, should get the HPV vaccine to control the virus that can lead to cervical cancer.
Recommended since 2006 for girls, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Tuesday to recommend that boys also get the controversial vaccine, which is administered in three doses.
The HPV vaccine hasn’t exactly been a roaring success. According to the Associated Press, only 49 percent of adolescent girls have gotten at least the first of the three HPV shots. And only a third had gotten all three doses by last year.
I absolutely understand the hesitancy parents have about giving their kids yet another vaccine. My daughter is 4 has already had more than two dozen immunizations. My son is 17-months-old and he’s well on his way too. I also understand all the concern about adverse reactions to vaccines. It’s frightening to think we’re supposedly protecting our kids from one condition, only to possibly expose them to something else. That’s scary.
I also understand any squeamishness at the thought of giving a vaccine that protect kids when they’re sexually active. No one wants to think about their children having sex. No one.
But I don’t buy the argument of some critics that getting your kid vaccinated for HPV will give them a big green light to have sex. Hardly. I view it as another level of protection for not if — but when — your child decides to have sex.
And whether we want to admit it or not, boys play a huge role in the spread of HPV. A dear friend got HPV from an ex-boyfriend and was later diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells. She had to undergo several nerve-wracking procedures before she was given a clean bill of health. I don’t want that for my daughter, and I don’t want my son to play a role in that for someone else.
But it’s easy for me to say now. I have plenty of time to wait until Oscar will get vaccinated. I hope there will be tons of study and more research in that time. And eventually, I hope we reach the point where kids will say, “Cervical cancer? What’s that?”