Minister Harris accepts HIQA recommendation for HPV vaccine to be extended to boys

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Minister Harris accepts HIQA recommendation for HPV vaccine to be extended to boys

HPV vaccine to be extended to boys next year in Ireland

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he will extend the HPV vaccine to boys following recommendations by HIQA.

It is hoped the extension of a more effective version of the vaccine will be rolled out by the start of the next school year in September 2019. 

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published recommendations from its health technology assessment (HTA) on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of extending the HPV vaccine to boys.

HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Máirín Ryan, said, “The burden of HPV-related disease is substantial, with HPV responsible for approximately 1 in every 20 cases of cancer across the world. This assessment demonstrates that the HPV vaccine provides effective primary prevention against HPV infection and HPV-related disease, and that the vaccine is safe.”

Girls in their first year of secondary school are currently offered the 4-valent vaccine, which protects against four types of HPV. HIQA has advised that the National Immunisation Schedule switches from the 4-valent vaccine to the 9-valent vaccine, which protects against an additional five types of HPV, and that the vaccine is extended to boys of the same age. 

Dr Máirín Ryan continued, “Vaccinating girls with the 9-valent vaccine is estimated to be cost saving and more effective than the existing girls-only 4-valent programme. A gender-neutral 9-valent vaccination programme, where both boys and girls are vaccinated, is estimated to be more effective than the girls-only alternative. It is likely that gender neutral 9-valent vaccination would also be cost-effective in light of the conservative assumptions used with regard to final cost, uptake rate and protection provided against all types of cancers.”

HIQA’s HTA also considered the ethical and organisational issues for giving thevaccine to boys.

Dr Máirín Ryan continued, “Extending the HPV vaccine to boys provides direct protection against HPV-related disease to boys, indirect protection to girls who have not been vaccinated and would reduce HPV-related disease and mortality in Ireland. Over 20 years, a gender-neutral 9-valent programme will prevent an estimated 101 additional cases of cervical cancer compared with the current girls-only 4-valent programme.”

The final report and recommendations have been informed by four systematic reviews, an economic evaluation, an ethical and organisational analysis, intensive engagement with an expert advisory group and a six-week public consultation which received 242 submissions.

The HTA was approved by the Board of HIQA on 4 December 2018 and has been submitted as advice to the Minister for Health, the National Immunisation Office, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to inform decision-making about the vaccination programme.

The Health technology assessment (HTA) of extending the national immunisation schedule to include HPV vaccination of boys is available on www.hiqa.ie, and includes an executive summary and a plain