HPV Action, of which the Mouth Cancer Foundation is a member, is delighted that ministers at the Department of Health and Social Care have today accepted the advice of the government’s vaccination advisory committee (JCVI) and that the national HPV vaccination programme will now be extended to include adolescent boys in England.

Last week, health ministers in Wales and Scotland confirmed that they would be introducing vaccinations for boys.   This is a big step forward for public health and equality and will mean that, each year; around 400,000 boys can be protected against HPV infection and the diseases it causes, including cancer.

It brings the UK into line with around 20 other countries that already vaccinate boys or which plan to do so soon. These include Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, and the USA.

HPV Action is now calling for:

  • Immediate confirmation that boys in Northern Ireland will also be vaccinated.
  • The early publication of an implementation plan for a national rollout at the earliest possible opportunity (September 2019 at the latest).
  • A catch-up programme for boys which parallels that available for girls. This would mean that any boy in school years 8, 9, 10 and 11 can be vaccinated.
  • The production of information materials targeted at boys, their parents and teachers. It is essential that all those involved fully understand the rationale for vaccinating boys.
  • A national campaign which seeks to maximise vaccine uptake in both sexes with the aim of eliminating the current substantial variations in uptake between local authority areas.

Peter Baker, HPV Action’s Campaign Director, said: “The decision to vaccinate boys as well as girls means that we are no longer attempting to tackle the scourge of HPV with one hand tied behind our back. This will make a real difference to the health of men and women and it will, ultimately, also save money. We have waited five long years for JCVI’s advice and the priority now is to introduce the boys’ programme as soon as possible. We see no reason why it can’t be up-and-running by September 2019.

Founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation, Dr Vinod Joshi says “Today’s decision is monumental and goes a long way to saving thousands of lives.  HPV related diseases can carry shocking consequence including loss of life.  By taking steps in the right direction and vaccinating boys, many boys as well as girls will now be protected against HPV infection, and illnesses including cancers.”