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HPV is a group of over 200 viruses which can infect skin and mucous membranes. Some strains of HPV cause cancer, including pre-cancer. These include cancer of the cervix in women, other ano-genital cancers in men and women and cancers of the head and neck in men and women. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer caused by HPV.
The vaccine is safe and effective. The vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organization, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. A HIQA report has recommended the extension of the existing school-based HPV programme to include boys.
Dr Ina Kelly, Chairperson of the IMO Community & Public Health Medicine Committee says that the “extension of the programme to boys has the capacity to significantly reduce incidence of HPV related cancers, through adding stronger community protection from this cancer-causing infection.”
Since 2010 the HPV vaccination has been offered to all girls in first year of secondary school or equivalent and a catch up programme was offered to all sixth year girls or equivalent between 2011 and 2014. This programme is delivered by HSE vaccination teams, led by Community Medical Doctors