HPV jabs for boys would not be cost-effective if there is a high enough uptake among girls, say US researchers.
Latest figures from the NHS Information Centre show that 70 per cent of eligible 12- to 13-year-old girls received all three doses, and 87 per cent one dose, in 2008/9.
Future uptake levels could be hit after a 14-year old Coventry girl died shortly after receiving an HPV jab at school last month, although a post-mortem later found her death was caused by a malignant tumour.
Earlier this year, experts warned that the DoH may be forced to add boys to the HPV vaccination programme to hit the uptake levels required for herd immunity (GP, 3 April).
For this study, researchers from Harvard University in Boston conducted a cost-effectiveness analysis to compare HPV vaccination of pre-adolescent girls alone with vaccination of both girls and boys.
They used NICE's preferred cost-effectiveness benchmark - cost per 'quality adjusted life year' (QALY). Vaccination was considered to be value for money if it cost between £31,172 and £62,344 per extra QALY.
Overall, they found that while the vaccination of 12-year-old girls was cost-effective, including boys in the vaccination programme surpassed the upper QALY threshold.
The researchers concluded: 'Our results suggest that if vaccine coverage and efficacy are high among pre-adolescent girls, including boys in an HPV programme is unlikely to provide comparatively good value for resources.'