The HPV vaccine will be made available to first-year boys in secondary schools in Ireland for the first time from next week. Until now, boys have not been included in the free human papillomavirus school vaccination programme.
Since 2010, girls in the first year of secondary school have been offered a form of the vaccine, which has now been made more effective against nine out of 10 types of HPV cancers.
This is happening amid a growing mistrust in vaccines generally in the Western world which has also led to a sharp rise in measles and mumps in many countries.
Parents who may be concerned about allowing their children to get the HPV vaccine should inform themselves of its efficacy and not rely solely on the opinion of their GP. Neither should doctors and other health professionals be dismissive of those concerns which are genuine and enduring.
Parents should note, though, that internationally, the case for the vaccine is overwhelming. The World Health Organization has endorsed it and, earlier this year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a statement to mark World Cancer Day in which it “unequivocally confirms the efficacy and safety of HPV vaccination”.
When considering what to do, parents should be aware that the human papillomavirus causes most cases of cervical cancer and HPV-type cancers claim the lives of almost half a million people worldwide every year, most of them women.