JCVI has just announced that its advice is to vaccinate boys!
HPV ACTION URGES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH TO IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATELY JCVI ADVICE TO VACCINATE BOYS AGAINST HPV.
HPV Action welcomes today’s JCVI statement on HPV vaccination for boys and calls on the Department of Health and Social Care to accept the JCVI’s advice and without further delay announce that boys will be included in the national HPV vaccination programme.
This decision is long overdue. The vaccination programme for girls began in 2008 and the government’s vaccination advisory committee (JCVI) began its assessment of whether boys should also be vaccinated in 2013. Decisions were promised for 2015 and then 2017 but postponed until now. In the meantime, about 400,000 more boys each year have been left unprotected against HPV infection and the diseases it can cause.
HPV vaccination for boys is not only supported by the 51 member organisations of HPV Action but also by the BMA, Cancer Research UK, and many individual clinicians. Both boys and girls are now vaccinated or soon will be, in about 20 other countries. The clinical, ethical and equity arguments for gender-neutral vaccination are overwhelming.
HPV Action is now seeking:
• An immediate announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care that 12/13-year-old boys will be included in the HPV vaccination programme. The same decision must also be made at the same time by the governments in Scotland and Wales.• The early publication of an implementation plan for a national rollout throughout the UK at the earliest possible opportunity (September 2019 at the latest).
• A catch-up programme for boys which parallels that available for girls. This would mean that any boy in school years 8, 9, 10 and 11 can be vaccinated.
• The production of information materials targeted at boys, their parents, and teachers.
• A national campaign aimed to maximise vaccine uptake in both sexes with the aim of eliminating current variations in uptake between local authority areas.
• An early agreement on the procurement issues between the Department of Health and Social Care and the vaccine manufacturers.
Tristan Almada, founder of the NOMAN is an Island: Race to End HPV campaign said: ‘The news that the JCVI recommends the vaccination of boys alongside girls against HPV is a huge triumph in the fight against cancer. It is the biggest opportunity to prevent cancer in decades. We implore the Department of Health and Social Care to take the steps to include boys in the national HPV vaccination programme as soon as possible. With this step, the UK will join the 20 countries vaccinating both sexes against this virus and makes our dream of the eliminating the 5% of cancers caused by HPV all the more tangible.’
HPV Action Campaign Director Peter Baker said: ‘The JCVI’s advice that boys should be vaccinated is very welcome news for boys and their parents. It will also benefit those girls who for whatever reason have not been vaccinated against HPV. We have waited a very long time for this announcement and it is now imperative that ministers accept the JCVI’s advice without delay so that no more boys left at risk. HPV Action believes it is entirely realistic for the vaccination of boys to begin by September 2019 at the latest.’
The JCVI’s statement shows that it has taken on board many of the points made by HPV Action, specifically that:
• The timescale for the proposed further modeling work was too long and that a decision could be made on the basis of the existing evidence.
• Vaccinating boys provides optimal protection to men who have sex with men.
• A gender-neutral vaccination programme provides resilience to the programme in the event of a fall in uptake in a girls-only programme (as has occurred recently in several other countries because of unfounded vaccine safety scares).
• The original assumption in the modeling of the proportion of oropharyngeal cancers caused by HPV was far too low (about 30%) and had to be increased (to up to 60%).
• The long-term health benefits of HPV vaccination should be recognised in the modeling.
• There are significant equality arguments for vaccinating boys as well as girls.