07/12/2018

HPV Vaccine Extended To Boys

The HPV vaccine is to be extended to boys following a recommendation from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).

The watchdog published information from a health technology assessment (HTA) on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of offering the jab to boys, suggesting that it could be altered slightly to achieve maximum success.

Girls in their first year of secondary school are currently offered the vaccine which protects against four types of the virus, since it was introduced in 2010.

In total, 538 cancers associated with HPV are diagnosed in Ireland every year.

Changing to a more effective version and rolling it out to boys will cost almost €12million over the next five years.

Dr Máirín Ryan from HIQA said the programme will be beneficial to all who receive it.

"Extending the HPV vaccine to boys provides direct protection against HPV-related disease to boys, indirect protection to girls who have not been vaccinated and would reduce HPV-related disease and mortality in Ireland.

"Over 20 years, a gender-neutral nine-valent programme will prevent an estimated 101 additional cases of cervical cancer compared with the current girls-only 4-valent programme."

Dr Ryan continued: "The burden of HPV-related disease is substantial. It is responsible for approximately one in every 20 cases of cancer across the world.

"It is likely that gender neutral nine-valent vaccination would also be cost-effective in light of the conservative assumptions used with regard to final cost, uptake rate and protection provided against all types of cancers."

Minister for Health Simon Harris announced the news, saying the efficacy of vaccination is well documented.

"There have been attempts to spread fear and scaremonger. This came to light here when there was an attempt to link the HPV vaccine with serious side effects.

"This can have negative, and potentially long-lasting consequences, particularly when such views are spread through online media."

Minister Harris noted that the anti-vaccination campaigns in Ireland led to a significant drop in uptake rates of the injection, but commended the work of the health authority for promoting the HPV Information Campaign which has resulted in an increase in those opting to have the jab to 65% in 2018.



(JG)

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