The Irish Cancer Society has called on the Government to provide over €10m in funding over five years to extend HPV vaccinations programme to include boys.
The request coincides with yesterday’s conclusion of a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) consultation on the issue by the health watchdog Hiqa.
“We welcome the opportunity to submit a response to the public consultation process on the HTA,” Averil Power, chief executive of the Irish Cancer Society said.
“We support extending the free vaccination programme to boys, to provide equal access to the potentially life-saving vaccine, with an aim to eliminate HPV-associated cancers in Ireland in the future.”
HPV is responsible for a range of cancers in men including oropharyngeal, penile, anal, rectal, and head and neck cancers, and extending the free vaccine to boys would cost an additional €10.4m over five years according to Hiqa.
The Irish Cancer Society said it considers such funding a “relatively low cost” that “will have significant benefits long into the future for our children, who will be protected against a number of cancers, and the health system which, with fewer cancers, will see a significant reduction in treatment costs”.
“Pending the results of the HTA, appropriate funding and resources must be allocated to support the successful implementation of gender-neutral vaccination in time for the new school year in September 2019,” Ms Power said.
“Alongside the vaccination roll-out, clear implementation plans, as well as comprehensive education and communication structures are needed, so that those administering the vaccine and health professionals are fully informed of the programme and are in a position to support parents.
“Similar to the HSE ‘Protect our Future’ campaign, which encourages vaccination uptake in girls, an effective media communications campaign will be required to provide accurate information and research.
“This will help to create awareness and assure and educate parents and their sons about the importance of the vaccination, to encourage strong uptake rates,” she said.