09 JULY 2019

The Oral Health Foundation is delighted by the announcement that boys in England will be given the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, starting in September 2019.

Confirmed by Public Health England earlier today, it means that all boys in school year 8 will be offered the free HPV vaccine for the first time.

HPV is responsible for around 5% of world cancers, including cervical, penile, anal and genital cancers and some cancers of the head and neck – all of which the vaccine should help to protect against.

Girls have been offered the HPV vaccine since 2008.

In time, it is estimated this new measure will prevent around 2,000 cases of cancer in men each year caused by HPV infection.  These are cancers of the anus, penis, head and neck.  Vaccination should also prevent over 40,000 cases of genital warts in men each year.

The Oral Health Foundation is encouraging all parents of eligible boys (and girls) to make sure they take up the offer for this potentially life-saving vaccine.

Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, says: “As a keen and committed supporter of universal HPV vaccination for a number of years, we are extremely pleased that the hard work of so many campaigners has paid off. 

“The programme has already been highly successful in reducing the number of HPV infections.  Now it has been extended to boys, many terrible diseases can all-but be eliminated.

“Over the coming years, the lives of thousands of lives will be saved by this vaccination.  Whether you are the parent of a girl or boy, please make sure they receive the HPV vaccination without delay.

“As the vaccine gets less effective as teenagers get older, we recommend having the vaccination straight away.”

Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, adds: “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.

“Offering the vaccine to boys will not only protect them but will also prevent more cases of HPV related cancers in girls and reduce the overall burden of these cancers in both men and women in the future.”

HPV Action believes that the next steps should include a catch-up vaccination programme for older boys and measures to improve vaccination uptake to consistently high levels across the UK.

Peter Baker, HPV Action’s Campaign Director says: “It’s fantastic news that HPV vaccination will now be offered to 12/13-year-old boys across the UK. We made the case for this for five long years because we know that universal vaccination will save men’s and women’s lives, reduce suffering and in the long run save money too. HPV Action hopes that every effort will now be made nationally and locally to encourage boys and their parents to take up the offer of vaccination in large numbers. HPV Action will continue to make the case for a catch-up programme for older boys who are still at school, so they are also protected.”

Parents of girls and boys aged 12 and 13 should look out for information from their children’s school about the vaccine and timings for the jab. If they miss out on the vaccination for any reason they should talk to their school nurse/immunisation team about getting the vaccine at a later date. 

More information about HPV vaccination for parents and their children is available here.