UK to vaccinate boys against HPV!
19 Jul 2018
HPV ACTION WELCOMES MINISTERIAL ANNOUNCMENT THAT BOYS WILL BE VACCINATED AGAINST HPV AND CALLS FOR EARLY IMPLEMENTATION
We are delighted that ministers at the Department of Health and Social Care have today accepted the advice of the government’s vaccination advisory committee (JCVI) and that the national HPV vaccination programme will now be extended to include adolescent boys in England.
Last week, health ministers in Wales and Scotland confirmed that they would be introducing vaccinations for boys.
This is a big step forward for public health and equality and will mean that, each year, around 400,000 boys can be protected against HPV infection and the diseases it causes, including cancer.
It brings the UK into line with around 20 other countries that already vaccinate boys or which plan to do so soon. These include Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, and the USA.
As part of the HPV Action coalition, we are now calling for:
- Immediate confirmation that boys in Northern Ireland will also be vaccinated.
- The early publication of an implementation plan for a national rollout at the earliest possible opportunity (September 2019 at the latest).
- A catch-up programme for boys which parallels that available for girls. This would mean that any boy in school years 8, 9, 10 and 11 can be vaccinated.
- The production of information materials targeted at boys, their parents and teachers. It is essential that all those involved fully understand the rationale for vaccinating boys.
- A national campaign which seeks to maximise vaccine uptake in both sexes with the aim of eliminating the current substantial variations in uptake between local authority areas.
Tristan Almada, Founder of the NOMAN is an Island: Race to End HPV Campaign, said: “We stand and applaud the Minister’s announcement today that boys will be included in the HPV vaccination programme. 400,000 boys a year will now be protected against this devastating virus which is responsible for the fastest increasing cancers in UK men today.
I saw first-hand the devastating impacts of HPV when my mother Paulette passed away from Stage IV HPV-related anal cancer in 2010, aged 53 – the reason I founded the campaign. By taking this step to protect boys as well as girls, the UK is emerging as a global leader in the fight against HPV. I am confident that this change in policy will be the catalyst for more countries in Europe and beyond to implement this life-saving vaccine.
Peter Baker, HPV Action’s Campaign Director, said: “The decision to vaccinate boys as well as girls means that we are no longer attempting to tackle the scourge of HPV with one hand tied behind our back. This will make a real difference to the health of men and women and it will, ultimately, also save money. We have waited five long years for JCVI’s advice and the priority now is to introduce the boys’ programme as soon as possible. We see no reason why it can’t be up-and-running by September 2019.”
Why has this happened?
It was believed for many years that HPV was the leading cause of cervical cancer only. However, HPV causes many different types of cancers that also affect boys, such as anal, head and neck, and penile cancer. In total, HPV causes 5% of all cancers, and only vaccinating girls against the virus, i.e. using herd immunity, has not been enough to reduce the risk of cancer in boys.
For the past 5 years we have campaigned tirelessly for boys to be included in the HPV vaccination programme. We’re thrilled that the Minister has announced that they will use the JCVI’s positive recommendation, but it is vital that the Department of Health and Social Care now implement this policy as soon as possible.
What does this mean for boys?
The age range for boys to get the HPV vaccine has not yet been announced, but if the program runs alongside the girls’, boys will get vaccinated in their early teens during school-time. There has been a significant reduction in cervical cancer cases since the vaccine was first introduced, so it is expected that boys will also experience similar benefits against cancers that affect them.
When will it be rolled out on the NHS?
That is yet to be announced. It is expected that the program will begin across the UK in schools starting September 2019.
What’s next for NOMAN?
Our work does not end here. 21 nations now vaccinate both boys and girls against HPV. Our mission is secure vaccination for boys and girls against HPV globally, and eradicate HPV-related cancers. We’ll be returning to the Mediterranean in 2019 for our Barcelona – Ibiza ocean rowing races. Watch the trailer here — spaces still available!