Now girls and boys will have the benefit of getting their cootie shots early.
In light of a Center for Disease Control vote, 11 and 12-year-old boys are now being urged to receive the HPV vaccination. This is a significant change from the CDC's earlier stance, where girls were "recommended" to receive the vaccine and boys received a weaker "permissive recommendation."
Now everyone should get it. Why? Well, it's a vaccine that prevents cancer, folks. And as Ben Franklin once told us, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Human papilloma virus is an STD that can cause cervical, vulvar, anal and penile cancer as well as genital warts. Each year HPV infections cause more than 20,000 cases of cancer (you can read up on it here). None of this swayed Michelle Bachmann earlier in the year when she asserted that HPV vaccines can lead to mental retardation - a statement she later recanted, but which could cause a ripple effect that will cost hundreds of lives.
Conservatives have been hesitant to accept the vaccine because it protects against a sexually transmitted disease. In an interview with The New York Times earlier this year, Dr. Mary Anne Jackson said "This vaccine has been portrayed as 'the sex vaccine,'" implying that once young children receive it, they'll have free reign to practice all the sex they want - safe or otherwise. This reads like an even more twisted version of the logic that keeps condoms out of schools today.
To add more fuel to the fire, the recommendation that boys be vaccinated could stir anti-gay sentiment, as most of the HPV-related cancers in men are transmitted as a result of homosexual sex. However, girls acquire HPV from boys, so heterosexual men bear just as much responsibility.
"Vaccinating homosexual boys would be far more cost effective than vaccinating all boys, since the burden of disease is far higher in homosexuals. "But it's not necessarily effective or perhaps even appropriate to be making those determinations at the 11 to 12 year old age," said Kristen R. Ehresmann of the Minnesota Department of Health and a committee member."
That'll really thrill anxious conservative parents - try separating the gays and straights while they're still throwing tater tots at each other in the cafeteria.