The HTA makes recommendations on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of extending the HPV vaccine to boys.
“The burden of HPV-related disease is substantial, with HPV responsible for approximately 1 in every 20 cases of cancer across the world. This assessment demonstrates that the HPV vaccine provides effective primary prevention against HPV infection and HPV-related disease, and that the vaccine is safe,” said HIQA’s Director of HTA and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Máirín Ryan.
The recommendation was welcomed by Minister for Health Simon Harris.
“Funding has already been made available in the budget to facilitate the introduction of this initiative in 2019, subject to a favourable recommendation being made in the assessment report,” said the Minister.
“The content of the assessment report will be reviewed by officials in my Department and I expect to make an announcement on this proposal shortly.”
Girls in their first year of secondary school are currently offered the 4-valent vaccine, which protects against four types of HPV. HIQA has advised that the National Immunisation Schedule switches from the 4-valent vaccine to the 9-valent vaccine, which protects against an additional five types of HPV, and that the vaccine is extended to boys of the same age.
“A gender-neutral 9-valent vaccination programme, where both boys and girls are vaccinated, is estimated to be more effective than the girls-only alternative. It is likely that gender neutral 9-valent vaccination would also be cost-effective in light of the conservative assumptions used with regard to final cost, uptake rate and protection provided against all types of cancers,” said Dr Ryan.
HIQA’s HTA also considered the ethical and organisational issues for giving the vaccine to boys. Dr Ryan said “extending the HPV vaccine to boys provides direct protection against HPV-related disease to boys, indirect protection to girls who have not been vaccinated and would reduce HPV-related disease and mortality in Ireland. Over 20 years, a gender-neutral 9-valent programme will prevent an estimated 101 additional cases of cervical cancer compared with the current girls-only 4-valent programme.”