The HPV vaccine is to be extended to boys in Ireland in 2019 according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Following a report by HIQA which recommends the vaccine be extended to boys, a public consultation to gather the views of various stakeholders was launched last month. Taoiseach Varadkar said he anticipates the public consultation “will come out in favour of doing it”.
HPV is very common virus or infection, and is the most common sexually transmitted infection worldwide.
In some cases HPV can be a precursor to pre-cancerous cells, which can lead to a number of cancers including cervical cancer.
Although both boys and girls can contract HPV, it’s been the approach to make the HPV vaccine available for free to girls of school-going age. If a high enough number of girls are vaccinated against the virus, the government’s ambition was to then roll it out to boys.
Roll out in 2019
The Taoiseach said, “Minister Harris and I spoke about this [extending the vaccine to boys] in the last couple of days. And we are going to put in train the procedures needed to introduce that next year to extend the vaccine to boys.”
Varadkar said a number of other countries have already extended the vaccine, and Ireland would be following, however, he said the costs have to be worked out.
“There is a cost associated with it obviously in purchasing the vaccines, we need to negotiate payment with GPs and setup all the logistics around it, but we believe it is the right thing to do- both in terms of reducing incidents of cervical cancer among women into the future, but also HPV infections in men which give rise to anal cancer, penile cancer, head and neck cancer, which can be particularly nasty.
“I’m glad we have the report and we intend to act on it and make it a reality in 2019.”