Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Pediatricians affirm safety
Despite lackluster acceptance among girls for a vaccine to prevent cancer-causing sexually transmitted viruses, the American Academy of Pediatrics is fully recommending that boys get the shots as well.
Boys 11 and 12 should be immunized routinely, with three doses of a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), the AAP said Monday in its online issue of Pediatrics. This formally updates the academy’s previous policy of “permissive recommendation” for vaccination of males.
The AAP has recommended since 2007 that girls ages 11 and 12 receive the HPV vaccine.
The new policy should end any resistance among health insurers to covering HPV vaccines for boys. Each HPV shot cost about $130 in July; three shots are needed for the vaccine to be fully effective.
Merck & Co.’s Gardasil is the only approved HPV vaccine for males; both Gardasil and Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, are approved for females.
The HPV vaccine exploded into a presidential political issue last year when Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race.
In 2007, when the first HPV vaccine was approved for girls ages 11 and 12, Mr. Perry issued an executive order mandating it for Texas girls. An outcry ensued over the usurping of parental rights and the idea that the vaccine gave tacit permission for children and teens to engage in premarital sex.
The Texas Legislature quickly overturned the order, and as a presidential candidate, Mr. Perry called it “a mistake” he regretted because he didn’t discuss it “with the people of the state of Texas.”
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota also hit a buzz saw of controversy when she said that the HPV vaccine “can have very serious side effects,” and that a mother had told her that her daughter had become mentally damaged after receiving the HPV vaccine.
The AAP quickly said there was “absolutely no scientific validity” to the claim that the vaccine “is dangerous and can cause mental retardation.”
As for safety, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program says that as of early February, a total of nine claims have been filed for HPV-vaccine-related deaths and 163 claims filed for injuries. So far, 25 claims have been compensated and 33 have been dismissed, the federal program said...[Full Article]
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