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HPV vaccine access for boys should be accelerated – IMO

Reacting to the announcement that the Department of Health has commissioned HIQA to undertake this health technology assessment (HTA), IMO President Dr Ann Hogan said: “Boys need the HPV vaccine too. Many doctors think we should already be vaccinating young boys as part of the national immunisation programme.”

She added: “While the IMO welcomes the focus of attention on the need to vaccinate boys, we strongly argue that boys deserve the same protection as young girls against HPV. The conversation should be about action to include boys in the programme and how this will be rolled out, rather than an assessment on whether boys should be included. Research shows that many of the cancers caused by HPV infection in both men and women such as anal, genital and throat cancers can be prevented by the HPV vaccination. There is no argument as far the IMO is concerned, boys need protection and should be included.”

Acknowledging the dramatic fall in the number of girls availing of the vaccine in recent years, Dr Hogan said: “We need a highly effective communications strategy to inform parents of the medical facts around the success and effectiveness of the vaccine. We need a schools education programme to educate our children about how to reduce the risks of contracting HPV. There has been a steady erosion of confidence in and uptake of the vaccine based on irresponsible scare mongering and if uptake continues to decline it will have serious consequences for all our young people”.

“Additional resources and funding across clinical services, communications and health promotion are essential for the delivery of the national vaccination programme.”

Separately, announcing the the HTA earlier today, HIQA’s Director of HTA Dr Máirín Ryan commented: “The HPV vaccine has been proven to be safe. Additionally, it is highly effective at preventing infection with the HPV types most commonly linked with cancer and genital warts in both men and women. This HTA will investigate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of expanding the HPV vaccination programme to include boys, thereby extending them the opportunity to benefit from the vaccine and increasing HPV immunity in the wider population.

”HIQA’s assessment will also consider the wider implications of any proposed change to the vaccination programme, such as the budget impact, use of resources, and the ethical and societal implications.”

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