The Australian ministry of health announced Thursday that human papillomavirus vaccinations for 12- and 13-year old boys will be funded as part of the country’s National Immunization Program. Australia is the first country to roll out a national program to vaccinate boys against HPV. The Gardasil HPV vaccine, which was developed in Australia, will be used for the program and is already widely available to girls and young women.
According to Tanya Plibersek, Australia’s minister for health, “Already the HPV vaccine has had an impact.” She added in a statement, “It is estimated that a quarter of new infections will be avoided by extending the vaccine to boys.” Australia’s women and girls have been offered the vaccine since 2007, and a significant drop in cervical cancer was seen soon after.
Many health professionals have said that routinely vaccinating boys will boost “herd immunity” and help protect unvaccinated females. Controversy surrounded the introduction of the vaccine because some believed it might encourage promiscuity, although this does not appear to have happened.
In a statement, Ian Frazer, director of research at the Translational Research Institute in Queensland, and the vaccine’s creator, said, “The addition of the HPV vaccine for young males on the National Immunization Program is good news for the young men of Australia.” Also, “I am pleased to see Australia is leading the way with this important public health measure.”
Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its guidance to recommend giving HPV vaccinations to boys, following a similar recommendation from CDC. Canada also has followed suit.
Date of Publication
Daniel Cressey, Nature News Blog
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