HPV vaccine available to boys from September this year
Public Health England (PHE) is extending the HPV vaccine to 12 to 13-year-old boys from September this year.
HPV causes 5% of all cancers and is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers.
It’s hoped this programme, together with the current vaccination for girls, could prevent more than 100,000 cancer cases by 2058.
‘A universal HPV programme will offer protection to all children from life-changing conditions like throat cancer,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said.
‘With uptake among girls in decline, Ministers need to cut through the noise, and make a clear and compelling case.
‘Online and off parents are being bombarded with fake news and bad science.
‘We need real investment in a hard-nosed, evidenced-based approach, that pulls no punches with the myth-makers.’
No catch-up programme
PHE has also decided not to offer a catch-up programme to schoolboys in years nine to 13.
The FGDP(UK) has reacted in dismay to this decision, which will leave a million schoolboys unvaccinated.
‘Dentists see the devastation that oral cancers wreak on patients and their families,’ Ian Mills, dean of the FGDP(UK), said.
‘It’s great news that 12-year-old boys will finally start getting the HPV vaccine this year.
‘However, the decision not to offer a catch-up programme is wrong-headed and will lead to more needless deaths.
‘In the UK, we spend over £400m a year on cancer research, yet we have a vaccine which provides effective immunisation against a number of cancer-causing strains of HPV – and we’re not making the most of it.
‘The opportunity must be seized to vaccinate as many boys as possible while they are still at school.
‘I only hope that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland decide to do the right thing and protect all their schoolchildren when implementing their own programmes.’
Last year the government decided to extend HPV vaccinations to all teenage boys and girls.
Since 2008, the vaccination was only given to teenage girls because HPV can cause cervical cancer.
However the government gave the go-ahead for vaccines to be extended to boys on the NHS.
‘Protecting boys from HPV would be a welcome sign that ministers are finally willing to walk the walk on prevention,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said at the time.
‘Over 30 people in Britain are diagnosed with oral cancer every day, and dentists are often the first to spot the tell-tale signs.
‘We now have an historic opportunity to protect all our children from the life changing and often fatal diseases HPV can cause.
‘Dither and delay on gender neutral vaccination has cost lives.’