Health chiefs recommend HPV vaccine to be extended to boys
The Health Information and Quality Authority has also said a more effective type of vaccine should be used.
The HPV vaccine should be extended to boys in Ireland, it has been recommended.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has also advised Health Minister Simon Harris to change to a more effective HPV vaccine.
Girls in their first year of secondary school are currently offered the 4-valent vaccine, which protects against four types of HPV.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract causing a number of conditions in both men and women, including a range of cancers, lesions and genital warts.
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.
HIQA’s director of health technology assessment and deputy chief executive, Dr Mairin Ryan, said HPV is responsible for approximately one 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,” she said.
“Vaccinating girls with the 9-valent vaccine is estimated to be cost-saving and more effective than the existing girls-only 4-valent programme.
“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.”
Dr Ryan added: “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.”
Around 90% of people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives.