The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are already behind preteen girls and boys getting the HPV vaccine that protects against certain kinds of cancer. The American Cancer Society has also supported girls getting the potentially life-saving shots in the past, and now it says it also supports preteen boys getting the vaccine.
According to Health Day, in a report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, cancer experts agree that immunizing both boys and girls, ages 11 and 12, against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus, known as HPV, is the right course of action for parents. Yes, even though they aren't going to be exposed for years. But that's the whole point.
While women can get the HPV vaccine through age 26 and men can get vaccinated through age 21, vaccination between the ages of 22 and 26 is considered far less effective. So that's why it is so important to get your kids vaccinated against HPV, the most commonly transmitted sexual infection, when they are still kids. Considering that a decade of vaccinating against the potentially cancer-causing HPV has cut infections by an impressive 64 percent among teen girls, it's really a no-brainer, right?
"HPV vaccination has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of cancers and hundreds of thousands of pre-cancers each year," said the report's lead author, Debbie Saslow, Ph.D., director of Cancer Control Intervention for HPV Vaccination and Women's Cancers at the American Cancer Society. "It is critical that all stakeholders—families, health care providers, and others—make HPV vaccination a priority, so that prevention of the vast majority of cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and oropharyngeal cancers can become a reality."
Talk to your pediatrician to learn more about starting the series of three shots for boys and girls ages 11 to 12.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.