20 Jun

Reports suggest HPV vaccine will be made available to boys and girls

Reports suggest that the government is set to roll out the HPV vaccine programme to include boys, as well as girls. According to the Daily Mail, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has backed calls from dental organisations to enable boys to benefit from the scheme. The HPV vaccination is currently given to teenage girls to reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Following a meeting to discuss the future of the programme, it is understood that the committee has advised health ministers to approve the expansion of the scheme, and health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is set to sign off on the guidelines in the near future. The move comes after leading dental bodies appealed for the committee to reconsider expanding the scheme after it concluded that offering immunisation to boys would not be cost-effective.
A group of dental organisations, including the British Dental Association, called for the committee to consider the widespread health benefits of protecting both boys and girls against forms of cancer that are linked to HPV (human papillomavirus). More than 20 different types of cancer are known to be associated with HPV, including oral cancer, which has become more prevalent in the UK in the last decade.
News of the initial reports has been welcomed by HPV Action, a charity, which has campaigned vigorously for the vaccination to be made available to boys. Peter Baker, director of the campaign, said that although the move is “long overdue,” it’s very welcome.
The move has also been backed by the British Dental Association. Chair, Mick Armstrong, said that the news may suggest that the government is “finally willing to walk the walk on prevention.”