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Why Boys Need to Get the HPV Vaccine Too

Why Boys Need to Get the HPV Vaccine Too

The Last Waltz was the title of The Band’s final 1976 performance at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The Band’s drummer and vocalist Levon Helm said his final farewell on April 19, 2012, when the 72-year-old died of throat cancer. Could his death have been prevented if he’d been given the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine when he was 12? (It didn’t exist back then.) Possibly.

Most of the attention for the HPV vaccination is focused on girls, since it does a great job of protecting women from cervical cancer. But let’s not forget that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (nearly all sexually active people get infected with HPV at some point). Besides protecting against penile cancer in men, the vaccine protects against genital warts and anal, tongue, tonsil and throat cancers in both women and men. 

So as The Band’s 40th Last Waltz Anniversary sails by, parents should stop dancing around the idea of getting their boys vaccinated. As of 2015, only 49.8 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 have gotten at least one of the recommended doses, while 60 percent of girls have. Since the odds of preventing a serious problem, as opposed to having one, from the vaccine are 40,000 to 1, we suggest you take the HPV vaccination opportunity and know that (as the album song titles tell us), Further Up the Road, It Makes No Difference, The Shape I’m In… if you don’t get your boys vaccinated now.

Medically reviewed in October 2018.

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