Wonderful news as government advisors back giving HPV jab to boys
Major victory in fight against cancer
It has taken five years, but finally we’ve done it! The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations ((JCVI)) announced today that it had reversed its previous opposition and was now advising the government to extend HPV vaccination jab to teenage boys.
The move had been expected following the JCVI’s last meeting in June in which it considered new evidence and economic modelling relating to the impact of including boys in the programme to protect against the human papilloma virus (HPV).
I have been a staunch supporter of the campaign to give teenage boys the same vaccination that has been routinely offered to girls aged 12 and 13 for the last decade.
Extending the vaccination to boys is wonderful news and one of the biggest moves against cancer in a generation. It will give boys, as well as girls, decades of protection against a leading cause of cancer and could even help eradicate some forms of the disease!
More than 50 leading medical orgainsations including the BMA and Cancer Research UK supported the campaign as well as many leading clinicians.
While the HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer, it also prevents many mouth and throat cancers which have seen a significant rise, with men four times more likely to suffer those forms of cancer than women.
Campaign group HPV Action is now calling on the Department of Health and Social Care to extend the immunisation programme to boys immediately, and it wants the governments in Scotland and Wales to follow suit.
It also wants a catch-up programme for boys up to the age of 16 to be included along with a publicity campaign to maximise take-up across the country.
In announcing its decision, the JCVI said that the long-term benefits of the HPV vaccination jab should be recognised as well as the significant equality argument for vaccinating boys as well as girls.
The advisory body also said that its original assumption of the proportion of throat cancers caused by HPV was far too low (about 30%) and had to be increased to up to 60%.
A big thank you to everyone who supported the campaign and let’s hope it won’t be long before the government acts and introduces the gender neutral vaccinations, hopefully for the start of the new school year in September!