The HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine has been offered to girls in their first year of secondary school since 2010. This is because the most common cancer caused by the HPV virus is cervical cancer which only affects women. However, since September 2019, boys have also been offered the HPV vaccine; because every year, a quarter of the 406 HPV attributable cancers are diagnosed in men. By introducing a ‘gender neutral’ programme, the overall spread of HPV can be reduced, thus reducing the societal burden of HPV related malignancy faster than a girls-only vaccine programme would. In fact, it is estimated that this vaccine programme could prevent 113 deaths annually.
The HPV vaccine is most effective in children between the ages of 9 and 15 and thus, this programme has been rolled-out by the Department of Health and the HSE targeting those in first year of secondary school. However, it is still effective in older children and indeed adults. To that end, St Vincent’s University Hospital have a free HPV vaccine programme aimed specifically at boys over the age of 16, the vast majority of whom have received no previous HPV vaccine. This programme has a time-limit attached and so we would urge all parents and boys, aged 16 years and older who wish to avail of this opportunity to contact the hospital on firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Should you require further information about HPV and the vaccine, please see the HSE website.