Harrow Health Care Centre, a leading provider of the HPV vaccine and other vaccinations, has said it unreservedly supports the efforts by the Teenage Cancer Trust to get older boys and men vaccinated against HPV.
It has campaigned for a long time for more boys, aged 14 – 24, to get vaccinated after it was revealed that they would not be offered retrospective protection as part of the introduction of vaccinations for boys aged 12 – 13 this year.
The HPV vaccine has already proven to successfully reduce cervical and other cancers since it was first offered to girls in 2008, but the centre agrees with the Teenage Cancer Trust that a “missing generation” of boys and young men will be at risk, unless they seek help.
Jane Woyka, Principal GP at Harrow Health Care Centre, said: “We think the extension of this vaccine programme to teenage boys is a good move, but the failure to offer it to older boys and men may mean that it will fail in its objectives to eliminate or significantly reduce instances of HPV.
“Girls can already enjoy free ‘catch-up’ vaccinations up until the age of 25, so even those who have missed vaccination earlier in life can still get protected.
“It is a shame that a similar offer is not being made to these young men, especially now that we know that HPV can carry similar cancer risks for men as well.”
Dr Woyka said that the only way to truly eliminate HPV from a population was herd immunity, where a sufficient percentage of the population (typically around 80 – 90 per cent), are protected from the virus.
“Uptake amongst girls has been about 80 per cent and we would expect similar results for boys when the new initiative is launched this year,” explained Jane.
“This means that while the majority of the population in this age range will benefit from being vaccinated, those boys and young men who missed out will still be at risk and could pass on HPV to the 20 per cent of girls who remain unvaccinated, which may mean that this virus will continue to be spread for many years to come.”
Harrow Health Care Centre, based at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in London, thinks that many parents should seek private help to ensure their children are properly protected.
“The cost of private treatment and vaccination is relatively small, compared to the potentially life-changing impact of a cancer diagnosis later in life due to HPV,” added Dr Woyka.
To find out more about Harrow Health Care Centre’s HPV vaccine services, please click here.