Panel recommends young boys for controversial vaccine


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Boys as young as 9 may soon be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus — a potential cancer-causing virus passed through sexual activity.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended a 2006 controversial recommendation to immunize young girls to young boys in late October.

Jack Stapleton, a University of Iowa professor of infectious diseases, said the university follows the guidelines recommended by the panel.

"It's not mandated," he said. "It's a public choice, but for public-health reasons, some vaccines are strongly encouraged."

The committee recommends boys ages 11 and 12 to be vaccinated, and it also encourages males ages 13 to 21 who have not received all three shots be vaccinated.

Stapleton, who was on the vaccine-advisory committee for the FDA when the vaccine was reviewed and approved, said though the vaccine is not mandated, the recommendation is a good idea.

"[The HPV vaccine] is probably never going to be [mandated], but the reason, in women, is quite clear," he said. "Cervical cancer kills 10 women a day in the U.S."

Doctors said men can be carriers of HPV, which may lead to anal, penile, and mouth cancer in men. HPV is not responsible for all cases of cervical cancer.

Mary Larew, a UI clinical associate professor of pediatrics, said she presents the immunization drug to parents as a cancer vaccine — its primary goal.

"There has been an increase in penile, mouth, and anal cancer due to HPV," she said. "Some people think that you immunize young men to protect young women. Well, that's part of it, but I administer it to protect them from developing anal, penile, and mouth cancer."

Because both sexes have an "equal opportunity" for complications from the virus, she said, during routine checkups, she highly encourages all of her patients to be vaccinated.

An overwhelming majority of patients opt for the vaccine, she said, estimating that more than 75 percent choose it.

Boys as young as 9 and men ages 21 to 26 may be given the vaccination as well, though doctors said the vaccination is more effective in people who are not yet sexually active.

However, Cynthia Janak, an independent researcher and freelance writer, said her studies show that administering the vaccine is a big mistake.

"It seems like the ones who are affected are athletes, and the second categories are those who are overweight," said the board member for the organization Truth About Gardisil. "Surprised, I found out that if there is a family history of allergies and auto-immune disease, that they're the ones that seem to be the most affected by this vaccine."

According to the National Vaccine Information Center, one in every 1,855 Gardasil shots is followed by a bad outcome. Outcomes reported include patients passing out and having seizures shortly after the vaccine is administered and blood clots.

Citing information from medalerts.com, Janak said more than 23,000 injuries from the vaccine, such as heart problems, have been reported to the National Vaccine Information Center.

"I could not believe that they approved it [the first time]," she said, noting that an FDA report shows roughly 73 percent of those receiving Gardasil reported new medical conditions after receiving the vaccination.

Janak also said she has received reports of side effects from one or two families who vaccinated their young boys.

Joseph Bocchini, the head of the federal advisory panel on HPV vaccine, said the vaccine should be administered because of its likelihood to reduce cancer for both men and women.

"I think it is more acceptable because the vaccine has been out for years," he said. "Many people didn't know the relationship of this virus and cancer."

But Janak insists these vaccinations should be stopped.

"Their life is forever changed, and that hurts," she said. "My goal is that I pray someday that the FDA will suspend both vaccines, Gardasil and cervix, pending a safety review and ultimately take them off the market. There are too many individuals whose lives have been destroyed."

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