More than a million teenage boys in the UK will miss out on potentially life-saving vaccinations, Teenage Cancer Trust warns today, leaving them at risk of HPV-related cancers in adulthood that could be prevented.

The Trust is calling for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to be extended to all 13 to 24 year old teenage boys and young men who want it, making it fairer for a ‘missing generation’ who under current rules can’t get vaccinated for free on the NHS.

The HPV vaccine is being given to 11 to 13-year-old boys across the UK for the first time in this school year alongside girls the same age.

More than a million teenage boys in the school years above them cannot get the vaccine free on the NHS and would have to pay for it.

When the HPV vaccination programme for girls was rolled out by the NHS, girls in older school years could have it free via a ‘catch up’ programme, but that option isn’t being extended to a generation of boys. The Trust say it is vital to redress this inbuilt inequality by offering 13 to 24-year-old boys the chance to have the vaccine for free on the NHS if they want it.

Teenage Cancer Trust Chief Executive, Kate Collins, said:

The vaccine should be made available for free on the NHS to all men and boys up to the age of 25 who want it, as it is for women and girls. While it’s great some boys from this year onwards will have the same protection against HPV-related cancers that teenage girls and women have had for a decade, a generation of teenage boys and young men are being denied that chance.

Parents of school-age boys may well find one child will get the HPV vaccine for free, whereas an older son will only be protected if they can afford to pay for it. That simply isn’t fair, and the cost of around £150 per dose is unaffordable for many.

Not vaccinating older teenage boys puts them as risk as it relies on the false presumption they will only have sexual partners who don’t have HPV. It undermines the UK’s progress on reducing HPV linked cancers, such as cervical cancer, as this ‘missing generation’ of boys can get and share HPV with others who’ve not been vaccinated. And it contradicts the NHS’s own message that universal vaccinations are for the common good.


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