Health minister Simon Harris is set to extend the HPV vaccine to boys after the health watchdog Hiqa today recommended it be rolled out.
The Minister had previously indicated that he was in favour of giving teenage boys the vaccine, with the Government saying it will provide funding to starting giving the vaccine at the next academic year
Recommendations on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of extending the HPV vaccine to boys was published today (december 7th) by the the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) using its health technology assessment (HTA).
Girls in their first year of secondary school are currently offered the 4-valent vaccine, which protects against four types of HPV. HIQA has advised that the National Immunisation Schedule switches from the 4-valent vaccine to the 9-valent vaccine, which protects against an additional five types of HPV, and that the vaccine is extended to boys of the same age.
HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chief Executive, Dr Máirín Ryan, said: “Vaccinating girls with the 9-valent vaccine is estimated to be cost saving and more effective than the existing girls-only 4-valent programme. A gender-neutral 9-valent vaccination programme, where both boys and girls are vaccinated, is estimated to be more effective than the girls-only alternative. It is likely that gender neutral 9-valent vaccination would also be cost-effective in light of the conservative assumptions used with regard to final cost, uptake rate and protection provided against all types of cancers.”
HIQA’s HTA also considered the ethical and organisational issues for giving the vaccine to boys.
Dr Máirín Ryan continued: “Extending the HPV vaccine to boys provides direct protection against HPV-related disease to boys, indirect protection to girls who have not been vaccinated and would reduce HPV-related disease and mortality in Ireland. Over 20 years, a gender-neutral 9-valent programme will prevent an estimated 101 additional cases of cervical cancer compared with the current girls-only 4-valent programme.”
The final report and recommendations have been informed by four systematic reviews, an economic evaluation, an ethical and organisational analysis, intensive engagement with an expert advisory group and a six-week public consultation which received 242 submissions.
The HTA was approved by the Board of HIQA on 4 December 2018 and has been submitted as advice to the Minister for Health, the National Immunisation Office, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to inform decision-making about the vaccination programme.
The Health technology assessment (HTA) of extending the national immunisation schedule to include HPV vaccination of boys is available on www.hiqa.ie, and includes an executive summary and a plain English summary.