Department to decide if boys could be given HPV vaccine

Hiqa to carry out assessment which will inform a decision to extend the programme

The HPV – or human papilloma virus – vaccine, marketed as Gardasil, protects against cervical and other forms of cancer.

The HPV – or human papilloma virus – vaccine, marketed as Gardasil, protects against cervical and other forms of cancer.

 

Boys could be given the HPV vaccine by September next year under a plan by the Department of Health.

The HPV – or human papilloma virus – vaccine, marketed as Gardasil, protects against cervical and other forms of cancer.

It is provided to girls in the first year of secondary school. It protects against 70 per cent of cancers of the cervix, which are caused by strains of the HPV virus.

Ireland has one of the highest cervical-cancer rates in western Europe, with 90 deaths a year, but uptake of the vaccine has plummeted following opposition from a number of groups.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said following the recommendation by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee that the HPV vaccine should be given to boys, the Department asked the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to carry out a health technology assessment (HTA).

The board of Hiqa approved the initiation of the assessment in March 2017 to examine the extension of the current HPV immunisation programme to include boys.

Work has commenced and the target date for completion of the assessment, which will include a complex model to simulate disease transmission, is September 2018.

Any decision concerning the extension of the programme will be informed by the results of the HTA.

Australia introduced the vaccine for boys and girls in 2006, since then a 90 per cent reduction in cases of genital warts in men and women has been reported.

The uptake rate of the HPV vaccine among girls in secondary schools has dropped from 87 per cent in 2014, to 50 per cent in the 2016 school year.

Since it was introduced in Ireland in 2010, more than 690,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed, and 230,000 girls have received the full course.

Ireland accounts for one in five of all reports of suspected adverse reactions against Gardasil in Europe.

The European Medicines Agency’s database lists 12,321 reports in relation to the vaccine, of which 5,396 related to the European Economic Area.

Among the most commonly reported effects to the authority are short-term “vaccination-related events,” occurring at the time of vaccination, such as syncope, or fainting.