Government to extend HPV vaccination programme to boys

The programme is currently only offered to girls in their first year of secondary school

HPV vaccine, High Court, flu-like symptoms, Fiona Kirby, health, HSE

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Government aims to roll out the HPV vaccine programme to boys from next year.

The vaccination programme, introduced in 2010, is currently only offered to girls in their first year of secondary school.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said plans are now underway to offer the programme to boys aged between 12 and 18-years-old.

“Minister Harris and I spoke about this in the last couple of days and we are going to put in train the procedures needed to introduce that next year,” he said. “To extend the vaccine to boys next year.”

It comes after the HSE launched a public consultation on whether boys should receive the vaccine.

The jab protects against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which can lead to cervical cancer among girls.

HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses that are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

Most men who contract HPV never develop any symptoms, however they can develop cancers of the penis, anus or throat –and can pass the virus on to others.

The State’s public health watchdog HIQA recently published a draft report in which it found that vaccinating both boys and girls would have considerable health benefits.

It also found once again that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing infection with HPV.

Mr Varadkar said he expects the public consultation to find in favour of extending the programme to boys.

He warned that there will be a cost associated with extending the scheme, but insisted “we believe it is the right thing to do, both in terms of reducing incidents of cervical cancer among women into the future - but also HPV infections in men.”