Boys aged 12–13 years in England will now be offered the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine to protect them from cancer, public health minister Steve Brine has announced.
The decision follows updated evidence from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommending that the existing and highly successful HPV vaccination programme for girls should be extended to include boys.
The vaccine, which will be offered to thousands of boys in England each year, not only protects men from HPV-related diseases but also helps reduce the overall number of cervical cancers in women, through a process known as ‘herd immunity’.
“The HPV vaccine for girls is already expected to save hundreds of lives every year and I am delighted that we will now be protecting even more people from this devastating disease by extending the vaccines to boys,” said Brine.
“Any vaccination programme must be firmly grounded in evidence to ensure that we can get the best outcomes for patients but, as a father to a son, I understand the relief that this will bring to parents.
“We are committed to leading a world-class vaccination programme and achieving some of the best cancer outcomes in the world — I am confident these measures today will bring us one step further to achieving this goal.”
The Scottish and Welsh governments will also be extending their HPV vaccination programmes to boys on the recommendation of the JCVI.