Thursday - May 13, 2010
Chicago Tribune (05.07.10):: Lisa Black
Merck & Co. recently began advertising its Gardasil human papillomavirus vaccine for boys to prevent genital warts. The vaccine prevents two HPV types associated with 90 percent of genital wart cases and two types linked to about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. Most males who carry HPV never have symptoms, although HPV also has been linked to rare anal and penile cancers. Gardasil is approved for males ages nine to 26.
Gurnee, Ill., mom Dawn Delott said she likes "the fairness of it" but prefers a holistic approach whenever possible. "How do you know how safe the vaccine is, because it is so new?" asked Delott, who has an eight-year-old daughter and a son age seven. "You should be teaching your kids about abstinence," said Aria Wasil of Highland Park, Ill., who doubts she will vaccinate her six-year-old son when he is older. Many also question the price of Gardasil - about $390 for the three-shot series.
In a 2009 study recently published in Pediatrics, nearly one in eight parents said they had refused at least one immunization recommended by their pediatrician. Most commonly declined was the HPV vaccine, by 56 percent of parents. More than half of the 1,552 respondents surveyed online said they worried about serious side effects from vaccines, especially new ones.
Fewer than 20 percent of females ages 13-17 have received all three HPV shots, said Dr. Tina Tan, an infectious-disease specialist at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and a member of Merck's HPV male advisory board. "If you could vaccinate 100 percent of the females, you wouldn't have to (vaccinate boys)," she said. "But we are not even close."