Studies of more than 5,000 boys and men found Gardasil was 89 percent effective at preventing genital warts which affect an estimated 1 million American men and women. The same virus also causes rare cases of anal, genital and oral cancers in men.
"This vaccine in the future may help to prevent cancers caused by HPV in males as well as females," said Dr. Anna Giuliano, an investigator in the clinical trial in Gardasil for males. "I think this is a tremendous opportunity for our sons."
But Shoshana Blasko wonders if it is worth giving a vaccine for an infection that usually clears up on its own.
"Without further research I am very uncomfortable giving it to my children," Blasko said.
She's aware of a recent study finding Gardasil was generally safe in females but was linked to side effects including rare cases of blood clots. Her son Evan doesn't think he needs protection against a sexually transmitted virus.
"Twelve-year-olds aren't going to be having sex so there's no point to get the vaccine," Evan said.
Doctors agree preventing a virus that causes both infection and cancer makes sense. But some are unconvinced this vaccine is the answer. The series of three shots costs $390.
"I would love my daughter and my son to get a vaccination that would prevent any kind of HPV, but it has to be at no cost, and I don't mean financial cost, I mean at no health risk cost," said Dr. Jacques Moritz, the director of gynecology at St Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York.
No serious side effects have been reported in males. The drug maker Merck, which paid for the study, is seeking approval for use in boys and young men, ages 9 to 26.