Exclusive: HPV vaccination for boys 'very likely'

The DoH may be forced to add boys to the HPV vaccination programme to hit uptake levels required for herd immunity, a top cervical cancer expert says.

Dr Anne Szarewski, a clinical consultant at the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine, told GP newspaper that it was ‘very likely that boys would be vaccinated sometime down the line’.

Speaking at a MIMS women’s health conference in central London last week, Dr Szarewski warned it was short-sighted to vaccinate only girls.

‘It is extremely unlikely that uptake in girls will hit the 100% level. In order to get herd immunity we need to vaccinate boys as well.’

Members of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) appear to share concerns over uptake.

Minutes published after the roll-out of the programme reveal ‘some difficulties in reaching girls aged 17 to 18 who had left the school system’.

Meanwhile, data for HPV uptake in England to January this year show that only 73.4% of 12- 13-year-olds received a second dose of the vaccine.

Among the catch-up group of 17- and 18-year-olds, just 32.2% had the first dose and 21.5% a second dose.

Dr Szarewski believes vaccinating both sexes would boost uptake by removing stigma.

This could boost uptake in ethnic minorities, where there can be pressure not to vaccinate girls against a sexually transmitted disease, she said.

‘In these groups it is less likely that girls will come forward for the vaccination.


  • See this week’s GP dated 3 April for the full version of this story.
  • Should boys be given HPV jabs?

Comment below and tell us what you think

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in