Public Health England has announced that boys aged 12 to 13 in England will be given the HPV vaccine.
The decision follows updated evidence and advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has been keeping vaccination for boys under review since 2013. The JCVI has now determined that such a programme would be cost-effective.
The vaccine is predicted to reduce the incidence of HPV-related cancers – such as oral, throat and anal cancer – and genital warts in men, especially in men who have sex with men (MSM). Vaccinating boys is also expected to reduce the overall number of cervical cancers in women, though herd immunity.
The extension of the vaccine to boys follows the success of England’s HPV vaccination programme for girls, introduced in 2008, and the more recent introduction of the MSM programme through genito-urinary medicine clinics.
England will now be one of a small number of countries to offer HPV vaccination for both girls and boys.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at Public Health England, said: ‘This extended programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and to 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.
‘Almost all women under 25 have had the HPV vaccine and we’re confident that we will see a similarly high uptake in boys.’