Belfast Telegraph

HPV vaccine to be offered to Northern Ireland boys

The vaccine will be offered to boys from September this year. Credit: David Cheskin/PA.
The vaccine will be offered to boys from September this year. Credit: David Cheskin/PA.

A vaccine to help prevent a range of cancers is to be offered to boys aged 12-13 in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health (DoH) has announced.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine will help protect against related cancers, such as that of the mouth and throat, and will be offered to all boys in year nine.

Young women in Northern Ireland has already be given the vaccine since 2008, with it to be introduced for boys from September this year.

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, welcomed the announcement.

“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," he said.

“This is an effective vaccine against a particularly harmful virus. I would encourage all parents to take up this offer and ensure their boys and girls are vaccinated.”

The DoH has also announced it will be introducing a better test for bowel cancer, of which there are 1,100 new cases in Northern Ireland every year.

The Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) will replace the Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test as the primary screening test for bowel cancer in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) in Northern Ireland.

DoH Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly said: “The evidence is clear in both cases that very significant health protection benefits can be achieved for our citizens.

"Both decisions have been under active consideration for some time and can now be made, following confirmation of the Department’s budget allocation for this year."

The annual cost of the HPV vaccine for boys is estimated to be around £750k.

Margaret Carr of Cancer Research UK said: “The HPV vaccination is already offered to girls, and making it available to boys as well will help prevent cancers such as anal, penile and some types of mouth and throat cancer.

“The switch to using the FIT test in the bowel cancer screening programme should improve uptake of screening and help pick up more bowel cancers before symptoms have developed. Bowel cancer is much more treatable, and has better survival rates, if diagnosed at an early stage."

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