BOYS in Scotland will be vaccinated against cancer causing human papillomavirus, the Scottish Government has announced.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said this would save lives and the extended vaccination scheme would be rolled out as soon as practicable.
The announcement follows calls for urgent action in Scotland after a Westminster committee recommended the HPV vaccination programme should be gender netural.
Currently, girls in S1 to S3 across Scotland are offered the injections against the sexually transmitted viruses, to protect against cervical cancer.
This was extended to men who have sex with men up to the age of 45 last year to provide protection against throat cancer and other cancers the viruses can cause.
Mr FitzPatrick said: “I am pleased to announce that the Scottish Government will implement a HPV vaccination programme for adolescent boys in Scotland.
“We know from the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that this will help reduce diagnoses of HPV related cancers and save lives in years to come.
“Work to develop the programme will now begin, in conjunction with Health Protection Scotland and NHS Scotland, to be rolled out as soon as is practicable.”
Age ranges of those to be vaccinated are still under consideration.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said in a report published on Wednesday: “If considering a cost-effectiveness analysis where a combined girls’ and boys’ programme is compared to no vaccination, gender-neutral HPV vaccination is highly likely to be cost-effective.”
Among those calling for the vaccine to be extended to schoolboys was David Cross, vice-chairman of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Council, who said HPV is a key risk factor for oral cancer, a disease that claims more lives in Scotland than car accidents.
He said 30,000 boys in Scotland have gone unprotected against it this year.
He added: “We applaud the fact ministers have shown real commitment, and pledged to give boys the same protection our girls currently receive through the school vaccination programme.”
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