Updated
September 13th, 2019

Northern Ireland’s Boys To ‘Finally’ Receive Cancer Prevention Vaccine

HPV vaccine Gardasil to be offered to boys as well as girls in Northern Ireland

irish church in Dublin

The Department of Health (DOH) for the UK announced ‘boys ages 12-13 in Northern Ireland are to be offered a vaccine to protect them against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) related cancers.’ 

The goal of this program is to help reduce diagnoses of HPV-related cancers and save lives, said the DOH in a press release on April 8, 2019. 

This decision was based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. 

But, this cancer-prevention vaccination program for boys in year 9 at school will not launch until September 2019. 

This program was first announced in 2018. 

Since 2008, women under 25 years of age in the UK have had the opportunity to be vaccinated against the HPV virus. 

As of August 2018, a total of 83.8 percent of eligible young women in the UK had received both doses of the cervical cancer prevention vaccine, according to the PHE’s December 2018 report. 

The girl's vaccination program has also had an impact on HPV infections in boys through the development of what is known as ‘herd protection’. 

The diagnosis of genital warts in 15- to 17-year-old heterosexual males declining by 70 percent between 2009 and 2017, says the DOH. 

The HPV vaccine currently used in the UK is Gardasil, which offers protection from 4 HPV types (6, 11, 16 and 18) including those that are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers. 

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Cervical cancer does not affect males because they do not have a cervix. 

There are other HPV cancers that can affect men, such as cancer of the anus, penis, head, and neck. 

Commenting on the HPV announcement, Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael McBride said, “We can now look forward to a future where we can be even more confident that we will reduce cervical cancer and other HPV related cancers that affect both men and women.” 

A number of authorities around the world, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have monitored the use of the HPV vaccine very closely for many years.

As with all medications and vaccines, there are some mild side effects associated with the HPV vaccination, read more about the possible side effects of the HPV vaccine. 

Recently, a new study from Scotland reported that routine vaccination of young girls with the bivalent HPV vaccine led to a dramatic reduction in preinvasive cervical disease.

This study published on April 4, 2019, showed the following results from HPV vaccination:

  • 89% reduction in prevalent Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) grade 3 or worse,
  • 88% reduction in CIN grade 2 or worse, and,
  • 79% reduction in CIN grade 1.

For more information about these UK announcements, please visit the NHS website.