The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has commenced a national public consultation on offering the HPV vaccine to boys.
Currently, the national immunisation programme offers the HPV vaccine to girls in their first year of secondary school. HIQA’s health technology assessment is reviewing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of extending this programme to include vaccinating boys in their first year of secondary school as well.
HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Máirín Ryan said, “HPV infection presents a significant and increasing health burden in both males and females, but currently only girls are offered the vaccine. On average, 539 cases of cancer associated with HPV infection are diagnosed every year in Ireland, including cervical, anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancers. HPV infection is also responsible for genital warts, with 90% of these caused by HPV types that are included in the vaccine.”
“No treatment exists for HPV infection, so the focus must be on preventing those at risk from acquiring the virus.”
The draft findings of HIQA’s report have been published for public consultation. The assessment found that vaccinating both boys and girls would have considerable health benefits.
Dr Máirín Ryan continued, “From reviewing the evidence, HIQA has found that the HPV vaccine is safe and is effective at preventing infection with HPV. Extending the current girls-only HPV immunisation programme to include boys would reduce HPV-related disease in males and females in Ireland, improving patient-related outcomes and reducing mortality from HPV-related cancers.”
HIQA wants to hear the views of the Irish public on this draft report before it is finalised. Following this, a final report will be prepared for consideration by the HIQA Board, before final recommendations are made to the Minister for Health.
HIQA invites members of the public to give feedback on the draft report until Friday 7 September 2018. The completed assessment will be submitted to the Minister for Health and the Health Service Executive as advice and published on the HIQA website.
Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomed the news, he added "Cervical cancer impacts the lives of almost 7,000 women in Ireland every year. Vaccination teams will be returning to schools in September to administer the HPV vaccine to girls in first year and I encourage parents to ensure that their daughters receive this important life-saving vaccine".
You can read the draft report and take part in the public consultation on www.hiqa.ie.