Year 8 boys will the first time be offered a "game changer" vaccination against a virus that can cause throat and anal cancer, and cervical cancer in women, from September, the Health Department has confirmed.
Prior to now, only girls had been offered the HPV vaccine, to protect against cervical cancer.
Recently, a major scientific review of 65 studies covering 60 million people reinforced the impact the vaccine is having against disease, showing a decrease in HPV cases and in pre-cancerous cervical disease amongst women.
In the UK, evidence also shows that men have been benefitting significantly from indirect protection (known as herd protection) built up from ten years of girls being vaccinated.
Pictured: More evidence has been provided in recent years, evidencing the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine.
Succeeding national pleas for the vaccine to be made available to boys, the NHS took the decision to extend the HPV vaccine to all 12 and 13-year-olds, which means that Jersey's Health and Community Services Department is now able to make the vaccine freely available for all Year 8 boys from September 2019.
Dr Linda Diggle, Head of Preventive Programmes, said: “Giving HPV vaccine at age 12/13 makes the biggest impact. At the beginning of September, school year 8 boys and girls will be bringing home an information letter, a leaflet, and a consent form for their parents to sign.”
“In past years, uptake of the girls’ programme has tended to be around 88% to 90%. With unequivocal evidence showing the massive impact this safe and effective vaccine is having, we’re hoping even more year 8 pupils will get vaccinated against HPV infection."
Pictured: In September, the HPV vaccine will be offered to all Year 8 students.
Dr Diggle added: “Most women have never been able to benefit from this vaccine (as it only became available in 2008) and they have to rely on cervical screening, every three to five years, to detect cell changes caused by the HPV virus.
“For the younger generation, the HPV vaccine is a game changer. We anticipate there will be a future recommendation in coming years telling us that those women who were vaccinated as girls need only have cervical screening a few times in their lifetime.”
“This is because the vaccine protects against the high-risk HPV types that cause the majority of cervical cancers. And because the vaccine has prevented so much HPV infection amongst girls, they haven’t been able to pass the infection onto boys, meaning boys have been benefitting too.”
She concluded: “We strongly recommend parents of all year 8 pupils take up this vaccination opportunity once schools go back in September.”
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