"I understand most parents aren't interested in hearing about their children being sexually active, but this is a cancer vaccine that's given for a number of different reasons that has to be given prior to the onset of sexual activity," Brady said, adding that another reason to give the vaccine at a younger age is that studies have shown the immune system responds more strongly to the vaccine at this age. "Children between 9 and 12 get the best response to this vaccine," he explained.
He also cautioned that this vaccine doesn't protect against all sexually transmitted diseases. Whether vaccinated against HPV or not, practicing safe sex is still crucial for preventing potentially life-threatening infections.
"Plus, if you give HPV vaccine only to females, you won't have any impact for men who have sex with men. By expanding the vaccine to both genders, we would reduce the overall transmission of HPV. And, we would make sure all of the complications of HPV would be prevented in both genders," said Brady.
Brady noted that this vaccine is quite safe, with the most significant side effect being transient soreness in the vaccinated arm. "This vaccine has very minimal risk," he said. However, he said any time you give children in this age group a vaccination or take blood from them, it's likely that they will faint more often than people in other age groups. For this reason, your child will be asked to sit for 15 minutes or so after getting the vaccine to make sure that doesn't happen.
One expert agreed with the new guideline.
"What the AAP is doing is being consistent with the ACIP recommendations. There will be a benefit to women from immunizing men, as well as the prevention of warts in males, and possibly cancer associated with HPV," said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.
Both experts thought that by providing the vacc
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