BOYS in the Valencia region are to be included in the human papillomavirus vaccine programme, according to the regional health minister.
Until now, only girls have been given the vaccination free of charge, and parents of boys who wanted their children vaccinated had to pay. The vaccine protects against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is linked to 90% of cervical cancers and 5% of all cancers worldwide.
Starting in September and October, the HPV vaccine will be administered for free across the region to boys aged 11, according to reports on Cadena Ser radio, but the Public Health Commission has to decide if it will then be rolled out to older children or if it will be the starting point for those year groups that come afterwards. The vaccine is administered in two doses at least six months apart to those under 15, while older teenagers and young people up to 26, should receive three doses if they are over 15 when the first dose is given.
Impact of the HPV programme
The World Health Organization have declared a global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer completely, through vaccination and cervical screening, and early results show that the HPV vaccine is having a huge impact.
According to Oxford University’s Vaccine Knowledge Project, evidence from a recent study of 66 million young men and women showed an 83% reduction in high-risk HPV in teenage girls, and 66% reduction in women aged 20-24. It is these HPVs which lead to most cervical cancers.
Welcomed by doctors
President of the Valencia Society of Pediatricians, Eva Suárez, has welcomed the move saying it is important to vaccinate both sexes, as only that way can the virus be stopped. She added: “The papilloma virus is the most common STD in the world.”
Suárez also called on the health department to include other vaccines which are currently only available privately, such as rotavirus and meningitis B. According to experts, vaccines should be seen as an investment rather than a cost.