MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Shelby County doctors want parents to vaccinate boys as young as 9 years old with the HPV vaccine. It can prevent cancers and sexually transmitted diseases and Shelby County has the highest rate of STD's in the state.
The vaccine is used to fight cervical cancer in girls. Now doctors report it can help fight other cancers in boys. Doctors stress it's important that boys are vaccinated even before they start thinking about sex.
"I'm not afraid. As long as they're protected and my babies will be alright I'm fine with it," said Alisha Johnson, a mother of two young boys.
"If it's not something he needs I wouldn't give it to him," said another mother, Tilina Johnson.
Many 9-year-old boys are not thinking about sex but doctors believe their parents need to be thinking far in advance.
"We would like to immunize people before they become sexually active and are exposed to the virus,” Dr. Helen Morrow, with the Shelby County Health Department told abc24.com.
She said there are no side effects to the vaccine and schools do not require students to get it. Doctors recommend males and females between the ages of 9 to 26 years of age get the HPV vaccination. According to the CDC up to 80% of men and women are infected with HPV during their life but most don't develop symptoms or get sick.