Administering HPV vaccines for girls and young women has become a controversial topic, with some parents uncomfortable vaccinating children as young as 11 for a sexually transmitted disease. The vaccine has also become a hot topic among the GOP presidential candidates, with Rep. Michele Bachmann falsely claiming the vaccine caused a girl to become "mentally retarded." Doctors say there have been no proven cases of any harmful side-effects and that the vaccination is important in preventing several cancers, which HPV can lead to. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that boys and young men take the vaccine to prevent throat and anal cancer, as well as the spread of HPV to women.
This new recommendation has been met with controversy as well, as the cancers that are being mentioned can be a result of gay sex. Dr. William Schaffner, is chairman of the department of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a nonvoting member of the committee. He explains why it is vital to vaccinate both boys and girls against HPV.
Dr. Schaffner serves on a data safety monitoring board for the pharmaceutical company Merck, which produces the HPV vaccine Gardasil. Dr. Schaffner's board deals with experimental vaccine studies, and has no connection to the HPV vaccine.