The FDA is recommending Gardasil for boys, saying in a memo that it seems to be safe and effective in preventing genital warts in young men and boys. And guess what! None of the boys tested got cervical cancer! Kidding.
The vaccine’s maker, Merck, has been pushing for males to be offered the shot too, and gave the FDA evidence that, according to CBS,
Three studies of over 5,000 boys and men, Gardasil was 89% effective in preventing genital warts.
Check out the entire news story:
On the CBS news segment, Dr. Holly Phillips also seemed pleased with the new Gardasil recommendation, saying that,
The vaccine cuts down on genital warts, and although those may not be life-threatening, they can certainly be embarrassing.
Soo…we should give our boys the Gardasil shot to prevent their pride being wounded by treatable genital warts? Might teaching them to use protection–which we should do in any case for anyone who receives this vaccine–also protect them from embarrassing STDs?
Later in life, there is also a connection with HPV and throat and anal cancer.
That statement interested me. We could reduce the risk of not just one cancer, but three? Turns out, of the 1,479,350 estimated cases of cancer this year, less than 5,300 of them are cases of anal cancer. The rate of throat cancer is higher, but smoking is the big culprit in those 12,610 cases.
Huh. Sounds like boys getting the shot to prevent these two types of cancers is right up there with circumcising a boy for the 2% risk of penile cancer he’ll someday have.
But what about cervical cancer? If both males and females are vaccinated against HPV, won’t it protect most women against cancer? Well, not exactly.
First, the vaccine only protects against two types (of 15) of the cancer-causing strains of HPV.
Second, we don’t know how long Gardasil is actually effective for. If we give 3 shots to middle school kids, will they be protected once they hit their wild college years?
No word yet on how long-term these studies were. Why might that be an issue? Because recently, one of the top researchers of Gardasil, someone who was very involved in promoting the vaccine, spoke out against it.
Dr. Diane Harper said of the vaccine and its safety:
Gardasil has been associated with at least as many serious adverse events as there are deaths from cervical cancer developing each year.
If we vaccinate 11-year-olds and the protection doesn’t last… we’ve put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit.
This isn’t simply a case of giving boys a vaccine to protect girls against cancer. I believe in the greater good.
But currently, we have no idea if this vaccine protects members of either gender from HPV past 5 years. Is that reason enough to get almost $400 worth of shots into every middle schooler we know?
I think that teaching boys to keep it in there pants would be the best course here. Being a male I understand how hard that can be, but its the greatest lesson I’ve learned. I am an opponent of most vaccines anyway so I am biased on this case but it sounds like more shoddy science to puff up pharmaceutical company profits.
Here we have a case where I need the writer of the article to work a little harder or at least follow through.
Right now there is no way of knowing whether this is a good decision or a bad decision.
Are the statistics good or are they motivated by the $390 amount they want to charge?
You need to be responsible and dig deeper.
This speaks loudly of profits! Why cut yourself off from another entire market?! Let’s find a reason to add boys to the equation! This is why I do not trust pharmaceutical companies, the CDC and FDA!
Cate Nelson says
Are you asking why I personally would shy away from getting my sons vaccinated with this?
Cost benefit analysis, for me: risk of serious side effects for girls is about equal to the risk of death to cervical cancer. That’s for girls, yes. Will the adverse effects be much different for boys? In some cases, maybe. Some side effects were perhaps due to hormonal birth control pills. Otherwise, I wonder if the side effects would be less for males.
The cost isn’t the issue. Long-term health effects from a vaccine that is supposedly effective (tested for efficacy and safety 7 months after the last dose was administered) doesn’t give me peace of mind.
Why would I want a 9- or 10-year-old boy vaccinated for HPV when the vaccine isn’t proven to last longer than 5 years? That seems crazy to me.
I am surprised there is so much opposition to this. First of all, if I had a son (i have two girls) I would want to protect him from genital warts, which is a sexually transmitted disease. Second of all, i would like to offer my very real girls the best protection possible from HPV and cervical cancer. That includes vaccinating possible future sexual partners to prevent them from getting HPV! Seems like a no-brainer to me.
@Drew — this plan you have, for boys to keep it in their pants, how’s that going for ya? Good Luck!
Honestly, it makes me sad and a little bit sick to see how big of a deal people are making about this vaccine just because it has to do with a sexually transmitted disease. Put somebody’s precious preteen in the same thought with sex and everyone goes bonkers.
Vaccine side effects are nothing new, people. Statistically, if you give enough people something, somebody’s going to have a bad reaction. It doesn’t matter if it’s Gardasil or the polio vaccine or penicillin or tylenol or the sushi from the restaurant down the street. Someone has to make up those 5% tails on the curve.
Although genital warts are “treatable,” they are not curable, and if you look it up you’ll find that treatments are not very effective. I mean, warts are stubborn, not to mention painful. Yeah, this vaccine is expensive, but have fun telling your son why you didn’t get him vaccinated after he catches it and has warts for the rest of his life.
It shouldn’t make you sick that parents want to keep their children safe. I vaccinate my children but they are not old enough for this one yet and i have been trying to decide which way to go. I know that the risk is slim but so is the risk of dying from cervical cancer. It just seems like they don’t want to give any kind of guarantee. If they don’t know how long it will last why do they want to give it to 10 year olds. If it lasts 5 years why not give it to 15 year olds. Maybe they need a little more time developing it. Why rush it to the public not that many people die from cervical cancer. It just seems like their motives aren’t to save lives and that makes me leery. The polio vaccine and penicillin saved many, many lives and should not be in the same argument. How many lives do you think gardasil will save? A bell curve would not be used to show people with adverse side effects so 5% tails are not necessary.
Cate Nelson says
@RT: Please read this link:
Dr. Harper, one of the researchers who pushed this vaccine, is speaking out because the SERIOUS adverse effects (not the little ones like pain and swelling at the injection site) are as many as cervical cancer deaths each year. Also, this vaccine is not proven to last longer than 5 years. Cost-benefit analysis? It’s not worth it. Of course if it protected for longer and against more types of HPV it would be. But it only protects against 2 kinds that cause cancer and another 2 that cause “lesions” (warts). And there are 100 types of HPV overall, 15 of which cause cancer.
That “89% effective” was only 7 months after the shots were given. Hardly a breakthrough. I want to see a few years after these are given, or it’s just not worth putting any of my children at risk for the serious adverse effects.