Vaccine-wary parents guarded over new pitch to boys

The Republic

Columbus, Indiana

By Lisa Black  Chicago Tribune
Posted: May 10, 2010 at 9:06 am, Updated: May 10, 2010 at 9:06 am

Dawn Delott is wary of new vaccines and doubts she will let her daughter get the potentially life-saving HPV immunization — let alone her son, for whom the stakes aren’t nearly as high.

For parents already uneasy about vaccinating their children, the news that the maker of Gardasil recently began promoting its HPV shots to boys as young as 9 is prompting yet another round of internal debate.

Gardasil was introduced for girls in 2006 as the first vaccine to offer protection against human papillomavirus, or HPV. The sexually transmitted virus can cause genital warts in both sexes.

But while HPV has been linked to rare types of cancers in males, most who carry it never have symptoms. Certain types of HPV in females, though, are known to raise a much greater risk of cervical cancer. So advocates say the most important reason to have men vaccinated is to protect their female partners.

“I like the fairness of it — that either sex has the opportunity to take it and not just female,” said Delott, 39, of Gurnee, Ill. But while Delott’s daughter, 8, and son, 7, have been vaccinated for the traditional diseases, including measles, mumps and rubella, she prefers to take a holistic route whenever possible. “How do you know how safe the vaccine is, because it is so new?”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.