HIQA wants to hear from the public about extending HPV vaccine programme to boys

A review has found that extending the programme would "have considerable health benefits"

HIQA wants to hear from the public about extending HPV vaccine programme to boys

File photo. Picture by: TNS/SIPA USA/PA Images

The public are being given the chance to have their say on whether the HPV vaccine should be offered to boys.

The jab to help prevent cervical cancer is already available to 12 year old girls during their first year of secondary school.

HPV (human papillomavirus) is an infection also associated with cancers that affect men, and it can cause genital warts in both men and women.

After conducting its own assessment, the health watchdog HIQA now wants to hear what people think of the vaccination programme before they formally recommend extending it.

They have put their latest report on HPV online for public viewing, which says that regulators around the world have 'not raised any verifiable safety concerns' about the vaccine.

Health Minister Simon Harris has said he wants to extend the vaccination programme, noting that the proposal has Government support.

He observed: "I am encouraged to hear the HIQA assessment has found that vaccinating both boys and girls would have considerable health benefits and that it reiterates that the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing infection with HPV."

He added that the proposal will be 'prioritised' if the final recommendation is positive. 

Dr Máirín Ryan is the director of health technology assessment with HIQA.

She explained: "Extending the current girls-only HPV immunisation programme to include boys would reduce HPV-related disease in males and females in Ireland, improving patient-related outcomes and reducing mortality from HPV-related cancers.

"HIQA wants to hear the views of the Irish public on this draft report before it is finalised. Following this, a final report will be prepared for consideration by the HIQA Board, before final recommendations are made to the Minister for Health."

The public consultation will be open until September 7th, and submissions can be completed online.