HPV vaccination programme to be extended to boys in Scotland and Wales

Adolescent boys will have vaccine to offer protection from HPV-related disease and cancers
Syringe containing HPV vaccine

Adolescent boys will have vaccine to offer protection from HPV-related disease and cancers

Picture: SPL

The Scottish and Welsh governments have announced they will be extending the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to include teenage boys.

The announcement follows advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that adolescent boys should have the vaccine to offer protection from HPV-related disease and cancers.

The HPV vaccine is offered to girls across the UK aged 12 to 13 years and was recommended by the JCVI in 2008.

Reviewing evidence since 2013

The JCVI has been reviewing the evidence for vaccinating boys since 2013.

The committee said the data considered showed the HPV vaccine is both safe to use in boys and generates comparable immunogenicity to that seen in girls.

Welsh cabinet secretary for health and social services Vaughan Gething said: ‘I am pleased to announce that I have decided that the HPV vaccination programme in Wales will be extended to include adolescent boys.

Reduced HPV-related cancers 

‘We will be following the advice from the JCVI that offering HPV vaccination to boys will help reduce the number of cases of HPV-related cancers and save lives in years to come.

‘We will now work with NHS Wales on the implementation of the new programme for roll out as soon as practicable.’

The Scottish government said the age ranges of those to be vaccinated were still under consideration.

Scottish public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: ‘I am pleased to announce that the Scottish government will implement a HPV vaccination programme for adolescent boys in Scotland.’

‘Rolled out as soon as is practicable’

He continued: ‘Work to develop the programme will now begin, in conjunction with Health Protection Scotland and NHS Scotland, to be rolled out as soon as is practicable.’

In England, a Department of Health and Social care spokesperson said the government was ‘carefully considering’ the JCVI advice and would update on a decision shortly.

A Department of Health Northern Ireland spokesperson said: ‘In light of the JCVI recommendation the Department has directed that preparatory work be commenced to allow for the introduction of HPV in boys in Northern Ireland pending a decision by an incoming minister.’

Long overdue

Unite lead professional officer Obi Amadi said: ‘We welcome this recommendation because of the public health benefits and we feel this vaccination should have been offered to boys a long time ago.’

British Medical Association (BMA) board of science chair professor Dame Parveen Kumar said: ‘This is an important moment for public health, for which the BMA has long campaigned, and we’re glad to see the JCVI recognise all children should be immunised against HPV, reducing the risk for hundreds of thousands of people of contracting cancer.’

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