CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A potentially life-saving vaccine that was previously available to girls only is now available for boys and young men in the Kanawha Valley.
Officials are recommending males aged 9 to 26 receive a vaccine against the human papillomavirus. Commonly referred to as HPV, the disease can cause genital warts in men and women, health officials claim.
So far, Gardasil is the only vaccine approved for males. Several states have decided to mandate HPV vaccines for females. So far, the recommendation that males receive the vaccine is just that - a recommendation.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for use in males last fall. The vaccine previously was only approved for girls and young women.
The shot, which is administered three times over a six-month period, is now available at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said Director of Epidemiology Janet Briscoe. The shot is recommended, but not required, she said.
HPV can cause genital warts in both men and women, cervical cancer in women and penile and anal cancer in men. Malignancies are much more common for women affected by the virus than men, health officials report.
According to the American Cancer Society, the death rate from cervical cancer continues to decline by about 4 percent each year. If caught early through Pap testing, the survival rate is estimated around 90 percent.
Briscoe said the vaccine is best if administered before any sexual contact.
Drug maker Merck & Co. manufactures the vaccine.
The Cabell-Huntington Health Department also is offering the vaccine. Officials there recommend that parents add the shot to the list of vaccines for their children as they head back to school.
The second shot is typically administered one to two months after the first shot, Briscoe said. The third shot is given about six months after the first shot, she said.