The health watchdog has recommended extending the HPV vaccine to boys.

HIQA says it would directly protect boys and indirectly protect girls.

The watchdog also wants the type of vaccine changed so it is more effective.

Every year, 538 people are diagnosed with a HPV-linked cancer in Ireland – a quarter of them are boys.

Máirín Ryan from HIQA says extending the programme would have benefits for boys and girls.

“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.”

Speaking from Brussels this morning, Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomed the announcement saying that the efficacy of vaccination is well documented.

“This can have negative, and potentially long-lasting, consequences, particularly when such views are spread through online media.”

He said that while Ireland is not immune to this issue there are signs that the negative trends are being reversed.

Minister Harris noted that anti-vaccination campaigns led to a significant drop in uptake rates of the HPV vaccine.

However, he said that the work of the HSE in promoting its HPV Information Campaign has resulted in an increase in uptake rates to 65% in 2018.

Digital Desk

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