My 13 year old son recently had his yearly routine physical. Now that he’s in grade 8, I was asked to remain in the waiting area (yet another sign that he’s growing up!). The doctor still invited me in afterwards to go over a few things.
She recommended that boys be vaccinated against HPV (human papillomavirus), and that my son is at the right age to get the vaccine.
I was aware of the importance of the HPV vaccine in protecting girls against cervical cancer, but what I didn’t know was the full extent of how Gardasil also protects boys and men. In males, HPV can cause cancers of the anus, mouth/throat (oropharyngeal cancer), and penis. The vaccine also helps prevent most cases of genital warts.
I’ve read that HPV infection is very common and that around 75% of sexually active Canadians will become infected at some point in their lives – often without even knowing it. Most HPV infections have no symptoms and often go away without treatment. Then why worry? Well the problem is when HPV infections don’t clear on their own, there can be serious consequences.
The doctor also shared a few safety facts about the HPV vaccine. It does not contain any preservatives, antibiotics, thimerosal or mercury and that you cannot become infected with HPV from the vaccine.
All this information helped put my mind at ease. However for my son, he is simply anxious about getting more needles… as Gardasil is a series of vaccines. But that’s another story!
If you are wondering if the vaccine is right for your son, speak with your health care provider. The HPV vaccine is not publicly funded for boys in Ontario. If you have questions about the HPV vaccine,
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.