Boys aged between 12 and 13 in England will be given a vaccine to protect them against HPV-related cancers, Public Health Minister Steve Brine has announced today.
The decision follows new scientific evidence and advice from an independent panel of experts. Updated evidence from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends that the existing HPV vaccination programme for girls should be extended to boys as well.
The vaccine not only protects men from HPV-related diseases – such as oral, throat and anal cancer – but also helps reduce the overall number of cervical cancers in women, though a process known as ‘herd immunity’.
The extension of the vaccine to boys follows the success of England’s HPV vaccination programme for girls and the recent introduction of one for men who have sex with men. The programme is expected to vaccinate thousands of boys in England each year.
England will now be one of a small number of countries to offer HPV vaccination for both girls and boys. The extension of the programme builds on the government’s commitment to achieving the best cancer outcomes in the world.
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 vaccines 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. We are committed to leading a world-class vaccination programme and achieving some of the best cancer outcomes in the world – I am confident these measures today will bring us one step further to achieving this goal.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at Public Health England, said:
I’m pleased that adolescent boys will be offered the HPV vaccine. 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, which has already reduced the prevalence of HPV 16 and 18, the main cancer-causing types, by over 80%. We can now be even more confident that we will reduce cervical and other cancers in both men and women in the future.