From September 2019, boys aged 12 and 13 years will be offered the free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Public Health England (PHE) has announced.
Researchers estimate that the HPV vaccine programme will lead to the prevention of over 64,000 cervical cancers and nearly 50,000 non-cervical cancers, including cancers of the head and neck, and genital cancers, by 2058.
Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at PHE, said: “This universal programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme.
“I encourage all parents of eligible boys and girls to make sure they take up the offer for this potentially life-saving vaccine. It’s important not to delay vaccination, as the vaccine may be less effective as adolescents get older.”
Dame Parveen Kumar, chair of the British Medical Association’s board of science, described the announcement as “a very important step”.
“Universal HPV vaccination is the most effective way of preventing HPV-related infection and disease … given the growing body of evidence that HPV is also responsible for a range of cancers that can affect men.”
In July 2018, the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations made the recommendation that boys aged 12 and 13 years should be given the HPV vaccination as part of a gender-neutral programme.
This recommendation contradicted interim advice issued in July 2017 which concluded that offering the vaccine to boys would not be cost effective.