The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously to recommend routine use of the Gardasil vaccine in 11- and 12-year-old boys to fight the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) which has been linked to cancer in both males and females. In the past, the CDC gave doctors the freedom to vaccinate boys, but opted not to recommend routine vaccination. The committee is now awaiting official CDC approval on this new recommendation.
The HPV vaccinations made by Merck and GlaxoSmithKline are currently reccomended for girls and women between ages 11 and 26.
A statement released by the CDC says that the vaccine will protect males against HPV-related conditions and cancers and can also protect women from contracting the virus via sexual contact with men.
Republican presidental hopeful Michele Bachmann made an unfounded charge that the vaccine may cause “mental retardation” at a recent debate, taking a clear shot at rival Govenor Rick Perry, who had attempted to make the drug part of a mandatory school vacination program in his home state of Texas. Drug maker Merck has donated sizable amounts of cash to Perry in the past, raising serious concerns over his endorsement of the vaccine.
HPV is linked to oral, penile and anal cancers in men, cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both genders. The panel has not yet announced if or when it will recommend the vaccine for young men between the ages of 13 and 26.