February 28, 2012
AAP Recommends HPV Vaccine For Boys
After last year´s heated political rows over mandating vaccinations for human papillomavirus (HPV) in teenage girls, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has announced that it now also supports vaccinations for boys as well.
According to Monday´s online version of the AAP´s publication Pediatrics, boys aged 11 and 12 should receive three routine immunizations against HPV, a revision of the organization´s previous stance on the issue which it had termed a “permissive recommendation.”
“The American Academy of Pediatrics has reviewed updated data provided by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on vaccine efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness as well as programmatic considerations and supports this recommendation,” read the opening lines of the new official policy statement.
“[AAP now] recommends immunization against human papillomavirus (HPV) for all 11- through 12-year-old children as part of the adolescent immunization platform.”
With each of the three necessary HPV shots costing around $130, the policy revision is generally seen as a bid to end health insurance companies´ refusal to cover HPV immunization for boys.
The AAP also noted that Gardasil — produced by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. — is currently the only version of the vaccine approved for males.
After the HPV vaccines first won approval for young girls in 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry made national headlines by issuing an executive order requiring that Texas girls receive the immunization. Following a firestorm of political controversy over parental rights, the Texas Legislation promptly shot down Perry´s initiative.
Other controversies have hovered around the question of the potential side effects of the vaccines, concerns that medical experts have said are purely political and not supported by scientific evidence.
The AAP noted in its new policy statement that “no discernible, vaccine-specific adverse effect, with the exception of rare anaphylaxis [severe allergic reaction] to vaccine components, has been detected” in relation to the HPV immunization regimen.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has corroborated the AAP´s claim regarding the safety of the vaccine. Of the approximately 40 million HPV vaccinations that have been administered in the past five years, says the NVICP, a total of nine claims have been filed for HPV-vaccine-related deaths and 163 claims filed for injuries. Of these, a mere 25 claims have been deemed related to the vaccine and compensated while another 33 have been dismissed as baseless.
According the American Social Health Association, HPV is currently the most common sexually transmitted disease the United States. The organization has estimated that some 75—80% of all sexually active Americans are infected with the virus at some point in their lifetime, though low-risk strains may often go unnoticed. In the year 2,000 alone there were approximately 6.2 million new HPV infection in U.S. citizens aged 15—44, the vast majority of which were contracted by young people between the ages of 15 and 24.
While most strains of HPV are resolved without serious or even noticeable health concerns, several strains have been linked with the development of cancer in both women and men.
The push in recent years to get kids immunized against HPV at an early age is a result of the discovery that the vaccines are only effective against cancer if they are administered before the virus is acquired.
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