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Children's Vaccines Health Center

Males Aged 11-21 Should Get Gardasil HPV Vaccine

Advisory Panel Votes 13-0 to Make HPV Vaccination Routine for Boys
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By the Numbers

HPV -- human papillomavirus -- causes cervical cancer in women. It also causes genital warts, anal cancer, and oral cancer in both sexes, as well as penile cancer in men. Men who have sex with other men are most at risk of anal cancer caused by HPV and are the men who may most benefit from Gardasil vaccination.

If at least 50% of women got all three doses of HPV vaccine, heterosexual men would largely be protected from the virus. But even though HPV vaccine is routinely recommended for girls, only 32% have completed the three-dose series.

Vaccinating males will not be cheap. The CDC estimates that the first-year cost will be:

  • $136 million for boys aged 11-12, assuming 11% of boys start the vaccination series and 70% of them get all three shots.
  • $661 million for teens aged 13-18, assuming 17% start the vaccine series and 70% finish it.
  • $62 million for men aged 19-21, assuming 3.2% start the series and 55% finish it.

Continuing safety studies show no link between HPV vaccination and serious harms such as blood clots, neurological complications, autoimmune disease, or death.

To reinforce that point, William Schaffner, MD, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, asked a pointed question.

"In view of recent political discussions, are there any indications of central nervous system dysfunction or mental retardation associated with this vaccine?" asked Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.

"There is no evidence," said Eileen Dunne, MD, MPH, who presented the CDC's report on Gardasil safety to the ACIP.

As with other vaccines, HPV vaccination sometimes is associated with fainting episodes. Fainting after vaccination usually happens within 15 minutes of getting a shot. It's more common in women than in men.

HPV vaccination has rarely been linked to skin infections, such as abscesses or cellulitis, near the injection site. There have been 12 reports of severe allergic reactions to Gardasil. All of these patients recovered.

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