Posted by David Carney
When Gardasil was originally put on the market by Merck, it was only approved for young women between the ages of 9 and 26. The vaccine was to protect against four strains of sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), including two strains that are known to lead to cancer of the cervix, vagina and vulva. According to a New York Times article, the vaccine has been a “tough sell” as it requires three painful injections over the course of seven months, which may be the reason that only 25% of girls under 18 have completed all three doses.
When Gardasil was then approved by the Food and Drug Administration for boys ages 9 to 26, many parents were left wondering what the real benefits for their sons were. Since young men have been eligible to receive Gardasil, it has only been reported to reduce the risk of genital warts, while HPV strains 16 and 18 have merely been linked to penile and anal cancer. However, both penile cancer and anal cancer in men are very rare and there are no clinical trials assessing the vaccine’s effect on some throat cancers. With the lack of data and research currently available and the expense likely to be incurred since Gardasil is not covered by all health plans (approximately $400 in out of pocket costs), many parents are taking the position that the vaccine is not worth the effort when it comes to their sons.