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From September this year, boys in school Year 8 will be offered the free Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the first time.

‘Worldwide, about 5% of all cancers are linked to the HPV virus. This includes cervical, penile, anal and genital cancers and some cancers of the head and neck – all of which the vaccine helps to protect against,’ explained a statement from Public Health England. ‘Cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer in women under 35, killing around 850 women each year. HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90% of cervical cancers, as well as 90% of anal, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers and more than 60% of penile cancers.

‘Modelling produced by the University of Warwick estimates that by 2058 the HPV vaccine currently being used may have prevented up to 64,138 HPV-related cervical cancers and 49,649 other HPV-related cancers. This would be 50 years after the introduction of the HPV vaccination programme, when people who were vaccinated as teenagers have reached the age groups that they would typically be affected by HPV related cancers.’

Dr Jonathan Roberts, Consultant for Public Health England South West, said, “We are so pleased to announce the roll out of the HPV vaccine to boys, making it universal at ages 12-13 will mean that HPV-related diseases could be a thing of the past.

“By vaccinating boys, we not only protect them but also prevent more cases of HPV related cancers in girls.

“This is a life saving vaccine and I would encourage all eligible boys and girls to take up the NHS offer of the free vaccine.”

Adam Finn, a paediatric doctor from University Hospital Bristol, added, “I’m very pleased that boys will soon be offered the HPV vaccine as well as girls. This change will help make this vaccine programme stronger and more effective, preventing many thousands of cases of cancer over the coming years and helping to eliminate genital warts as well.

“I strongly recommend that all the young people being offered this vaccine accept it with enthusiasm and I wholeheartedly advise their parents to encourage them to do so too. This in a investment in a healthy future for tomorrow’s parents and a rare example of something so simple and quick having the potential to make such a big difference to people’s lives.”

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