Response to government announcement it won't do catch HPV vaccination


Health experts call on government to offer ‘catch-up’ HPV vaccination to boys up to age 18 to protect them against fatal diseases.

16 leading experts in the field of HPV and the diseases it can cause have written to the public health minister Steve Brine MP urging him to offer HPV vaccination to boys aged up to 18 as a catch-up programme. This would run alongside the vaccination programme for 12/13 year old boys which the government intends to rollout from September 2019.

The experts have also called on the minister to make a firm commitment to starting boys’ vaccination next year rather than just saying he intends to do so.

The letter’s signatories include: Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association; Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal Collage of Surgeons; Hisham Mehanna, Professor of Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Birmingham; Ian Mills, Dean, Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK); Professor Chris Nutting, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital; and Dr Olwen Williams, President of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.

Ministers have so far rejected the case for a catch-up programme for boys on the grounds that boys are partly protected by the vaccination of girls. The experts point out, however, that the government’s own vaccination advisory committee (JCVI) recommended HPV vaccination for boys precisely because vaccinating girls offers boys inadequate protection. Moreover, men who have sex with men are completely unprotected by the girls’ programme. The experts also state that when the girls’ programme was introduced in 2008, they benefited from a catch-up programme and boys should be entitled to the same on the grounds of fairness.

The announcement of the decision to vaccinate boys was long overdue. It was originally promised in 2015 but took three more years to become policy. In that time, around one million boys missed out on HPV vaccination and they are therefore at risk. The experts argue that the opportunity must be seized to vaccinate as many boys as possible while they are still at school and therefore easier to reach.

Commenting on the letter, HPV Action’s Campaign Director Peter Baker said: ‘The government must not ignore the views of 16 leading experts in the HPV field. It must reconsider its short-sighted decision not to offer boys a catch-up programme and it must also make an unequivocal commitment to start vaccinating boys from next September. Boys can no longer be left at risk of developing the potentially fatal and other diseases caused by HPV.’


For more information contact: Peter Baker, HPV Action’s Campaign Director –
07786 454 905 / [email protected]
1. The letter to the public health minister can be viewed here. It will be sent on 12
November 2018.
2. HPV (human papillomavirus) is the name for a group of viruses that affect the
skin and moist areas around the body. There are around 200 types of HPV. Many
are harmless. But some types are dangerous and can cause in both men and
women a range of cancers and genital warts. The HPV-related cancers are: anal,
cervical, head, neck, penile, vaginal, vulval. HPV Action estimates that around
2,000 new cases of cancer in men are caused by HPV each year in the UK.
3. The government announced in July 2018 that it was accepting the JCVI’s advice
to extend the HPV vaccination programme to boys. Girls aged 12/13 have been
vaccinated since 2008.
4. HPV Action is a partnership of 51 patient and professional organisations that
advocates HPV vaccination for both boys and girls. Its members are:
British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, British Association of Dental Nurses, British
Association of Dental Therapists, British Dental Association, British Association of Head and Neck
Oncologists (BAHNO), British Society for Immunology, British Society of Dental Hygiene and
Therapy, Brook, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, Children’s HIV Association of the UK & Ireland
(CHIVA), ENT UK, European Men’s Health Forum, Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College
of Surgeons of England, Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), Faculty of Public Health,
Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, Family Planning Association, GMFA (Gay Men’s
Health Charity), Herpes Viruses Association, HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation, Jo’s Cervical
Cancer Trust, Let’s Talk About Mouth Cancer, London Cancer Alliance, London Friend, Men’s
Health Forum (GB), Men’s Health Forum Ireland, Mouth Cancer Foundation, National Aids
Manual, National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs (NALC), National Education Union,
National Oral Health Promotion Group, National Union of Students, Northern Head and Neck
Cancer Fund, Oral Cancer Foundation (USA), Oral Health Foundation, Primary Care Urology
Society, Rainbow Project, Reproductive Health Matters, Royal College of Obstetricians and
Gynaecologists, Royal Society for Public Health, The School and Public Health Nurses
Association, Sexpression:UK, Society of British Dental Nurses, Society of Sexual Health Advisers,
Stonewall, The Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Support Group, Tenovus, Terrence Higgins
Trust, Throat Cancer Foundation, The Urology Foundation, Wellbeing of Women
11 November 2018

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