MOLINE, Ill. (KWQC) - 80% of sexually active people contract Human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their life according to the American Sexual Health Association, and the virus can cause cancers in both men and women.
The CDC says recent studies show about 70% of throat cancers may be linked to HPV. But there's a common misconception among parents that the HPV vaccine is only for girls.
The reality is that health professionals say the vaccine can help prevent HPV among both males and females if received before they're sexually active.
Research shows the vaccine does not have any dangerous side effects according to The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety of the World Health Organization and the CDC says "no serious safety concerns were identified in these clinical trials. FDA only licenses a vaccine if it is safe, effective, and the benefits outweigh the risks. CDC and FDA continue to monitor HPV vaccines to make sure they are safe and beneficial for the public."
The HPV vaccine is the only vaccination that protects against specific types of cancer. But the CDC also says "on very rare occasions, severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions may occur after vaccination. People with severe allergies to any component of a vaccine should not receive that vaccine."
"The misconception probably comes from the way the Gardasil vaccination was marketed," says Dr. Vikram Agrawal a Pediatrician at UnityPoint. "It was marketed as a vaccination that prevents cervical cancer and cervical cancer is obviously in females. The boys are also at risk of getting genital warts and in some stages, some boys can also get inner-genital warts too. Anal warts, genital warts and throat cancers too. These all diseases and cancers can be prevented by getting the HPV vaccination in boys too," Dr. Agrawal adds.
Dr. Vikram Agrawal says that getting boys vaccinated will also help break the cycle of HPV transmission and that most doctors suggest getting the vaccination at around 11 or 12 years old. It is most effective if done before one is sexually active. But is always best to contact a doctor in regards to each individual case.
The CDC says common side effects of the vaccine include: pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given; fever; headache or feeling tired; nausea; and muscle or joint pain.