Boys have missed out on vital cancer fighting jab for YEARS, experts warn
BOYS have missed out on a vital cancer fighting vaccine for years, experts have warned.
There are calls for the Government to roll out an urgent catch up scheme so young men are protected.
The HPV vaccine has been given to girls aged 12 and 13 since 2008 to prevent cervical cancer in later life.
A new study has shown the NHS programme has slashed cases of cervical cancer by nearly 90 per cent, and experts say the disease could one day be eradicated.
Off the back of the findings, there have been calls for boys to have been given the highly effective jab to prevent other HPV-type cancers.
This includes cancers of the head, neck and genitals.
Since 2019, school boys have been included in the vaccination programme – a whole decade after girls started getting the jabs.
But Jamie Rae, founder of the Throat Cancer Foundation who survived a HPV related cancer, said it “doesn’t go nearly far enough”.
“'It is imperative all boys and men up to 26 get priority access to a catch-up programme to increase overall protection against HPV,” he told MailOnline.
“Daily, we see the devastation caused by viruses. HPV is one of them.
“We applaud Governments across the UK for eventually introducing HPV vaccination for boys; however, it doesn't go nearly far enough.
“It excluded swathes of boys and young men who were left playing a lottery with their future health. We would again call on all UK Governments to think again and do the right thing.”
Malcolm Clark, cancer prevention policy manager at Cancer Research UK, said it was “important that the vaccine programme is gender neutral”.
“HPV can cause other cancer types such as anal, penile and upper throat, as well as cervical cancer,” he said.
HPV is a virus that is passed through sexual contact.
Most people will get HPV at some point in their life and do not have any problems. The infection clears within around two years.
But in some people, it could lead to either genital warts or abnormal changes in the cells that could become cancerous.
The jab was initially given to only girls before the age they became sexually active.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a panel which advises the Government on inoculations, said boys would be protected due to “herd immunity”.
However, the programme was extended to boys to further eliminate any risk of the virus spreading and prevent cancers other than cervical.
By this point millions of girls had already had their two doses.
Only men under some circumstances can get the HPV jab.
Men who have sex with men (gay and bisexaul) do not benefit from this indirect protection, and so are also able to get the HPV vaccine up to the age of 45.
Some transgender people can also get the vaccine.
Those assigned female at birth would have gotten one as a child. But those assigned male at birth could get a jab if they transitioned to female and have sex with men.
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