HPV vaccination programme in England will cover boys, government confirms

Teenage boys in England are to receive the HPV vaccination, the government has confirmed.

(Photo: iStock/juststock)
(Photo: iStock/juststock)

The announcement today follows the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations (JCVI) recommendation that the HPV immunisation programme should be extended to cover boys.

The Scottish and Welsh governments had already confirmed that boys would be added to their vaccination programmes.

In England the vaccine will be offered to boys aged 12-13 alongside the existing vaccination programme in schools for girls.

Public health minister Steve Brine said: ‘The HPV vaccine for girls is already expected to save hundreds of lives every year and I am delighted that we will now be protecting even more people from this devastating disease by extending the vaccine to boys.

‘Any vaccination programme must be firmly grounded in evidence to ensure that we can get the best outcomes for patients, but as a father to a son, I understand the relief that this will bring to parents.’

Cancer protection

The girls’ programme was introduced across the UK in 2008, and has already reduced the prevalence of HPV 16 and 18 - the main cancer-causing strains - by more than 80%.

The JCVI has been reviewing the evidence for vaccinating boys against HPV since 2013. In its statement issued this month it concluded that extending the vaccine to boys would be cost-effective after taking account of the fact that benefits would be realised over an extended period of time.

The JCVI said vaccinating boys would provide protection to men who have sex with men and protect against HPV infection and associated disease including anogenital warts, anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancers. Modelling also predicted that vaccinating boys would extend benefits of the programme to unvaccinated girls.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the move would ‘go a long way in protecting both boys and girls from a virus that can trigger a wide range of cancers.’

‘It has been frustrating that this effective vaccine has, until now, only been available on the NHS to girls but not boys. We hope parents will take up this important opportunity to get their sons and daughters vaccinated as soon as it is available to them,' she added.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England said: ‘Almost all women under 25 have had the HPV vaccine and we’re confident that we will see a similarly high uptake in boys.

‘This extended programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme. We can now be even more confident that we will reduce cervical and other cancers in both men and women in the future.’

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