The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine should be given to boys as well as girls, the nation’s largest organization of pediatricians has recommended.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation on the HPV shot, which can prevent cervical cancer in girls and women as well as genital herpes and cancer in both sexes, backs the position of federal health officials.
The group issued its position as part of a new schedule of recommended childhood vaccinations. Two other changes were made to previous recommendations – on flu and meningitis vaccines.
In its new guidelines, the AAP recommended a booster shot of the meningococcal vaccine be given to teenagers at age 16. The prior guidelines recommended children be routinely immunized at 11 or 12. The later vaccine is designed to protect young people from meningitis through their early 20s, the academy said. College-based outbreaks of meningitis in recent years have spotlighted the risks to young adults.
For the second year, the AAP also said children 6 months and older need to get the annual flu shot.
The new AAP guidelines closely track recommendations made by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new HPV guidelines recommend boys and girls get the first of the three doses of the vaccine given over a six-month period at age 11 or 12 – before they become sexually active. The vaccine protects against HPV as well as genital warts and a variety of cancers in both sexes.