HPV vaccine for Year 8 boys in Kent free on the NHS from September
Boys in schools across Kent will soon be offered the free Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the first time.
More than 10 million doses have been given to girls in England since 2008, when the vaccine became available to young women on the NHS.
But boys aged 12 and 13 will also be eligible from September.
The additional injections will lead to the prevention of more than 64,000 cervical cancers and nearly 50,000 non-cervical cancers by 2058.
Since the jab was introduced, infections of some types of HPV in 16-21 year old women have reduced by 86% in England.
Similarly, diagnoses of genital warts have declined by 90% in 15 to 17-year-old girls and 70% in 15 to 17-year-old boys.
About 5% of all cancers are linked to HPV and although the virus leads to more cases in females, with cervical cancer being a major product, it can also cause cancers which affect boys.
The additional jabs for boys are estimated to reduce anal cancer by 4,124, penile cancer by 3,433 and throat cancer by 21,395 in the next 40 years.
Studies show the vaccine protects against infection for at least 10 years, but experts predict the protection could be lifelong.
Paula Mclachlan, screening and immunisation manager for Kent and Medway, is encouraging all who have opportunity to be vaccinated, to take it.
She said: "With the boys it will not only protect against cervical cancer for the girls through herd immunity but could also protect against anal cancers and throat cancers.
"It has been so successful for girls and lots have been protected and we are protecting even more people by immunising boys too.
"The evidence is saying this is a really good vaccine, is very safe and has been used all over the world for many years.
"So, if you get the opportunity, you shouldn't hesitate - it's well worth getting it."
Mandy Parker, from Dartford, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 aged 44 and wishes the vaccine was offered when she was a girl.
She said: “If the HPV vaccine had been available when I was younger, there is a chance that I wouldn’t ever have had to hear the words ‘I’m sorry but you have cervical cancer’.
"Whatever we can do to prevent more people from being diagnosed with cancer can only be a positive thing and the fact that it is going to be offered to boys is fantastic."
Dr John Rodriguez, screening and immunisation lead in Kent, said: “Offering the vaccine to boys will not only protect them but will also prevent more cases of HPV related cancers in girls, as the virus can be transmitted sexually.
“I encourage all parents of eligible boys and girls to make sure they take up the offer for this potentially life-saving vaccine.
"It's important not to delay the vaccination, as it may be less effective as adolescents get older."
Boys will receive their first jab in Year Eight, with the second dose between six and 24 months after.
Parents of girls and boys aged 12 and 13 should look out for information from their children’s school about the vaccine and timings for the jab.
For more information on the HPV vaccination click here.
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