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Penny pinching on HPV ‘catch-up programme’ for boys will cost lives, as 1 in 5 girls miss out on jab


  Posted by: The Probe      13th December 2018

Dentist leaders have lambasted the government for failing to back a catch-up programme to protect up to 2 million boys still in school from the human papillomavirus (HPV) – as new data shows nearly 1 in 5 school-aged girls have missed out on the vaccine.

In a letter to shadow public health minister Sharon Hodgson, public health minister Steve Brine MP has confirmed there will be no catch-up programme for boys, arguing boys will benefit from “herd protection.”

Girls in England are offered free HPV jabs at school during Years 8 and 9, when they are aged between 12 and 14. The latest Public Health England (PHE) data shows just 83.8% of girls were given the recommended two doses of the vaccine by the end of Year 9 in 2017-18 – less than what’s required for herd immunity – with nearly 50,000 (48,545) girls missing out. 

The British Dental Association has been a leading advocate for expanding the programme to boys. HPV is a leading cause of oral cancers, which cause more deaths in the UK than car accidents.

Mick Armstrong, Chair of the British Dental Association said:

“The latest data on vaccinations among girls illustrates precisely why we’ve needed a gender-neutral approach. It also shows why penny pinching on a catch-up programme will leave many school-aged boys unprotected.

“There can be no guarantees of ‘herd protection’ when nearly 1 in 5 girls are missing out on the vaccine. A catch-up programme remains the best way to protect all our children from this cancer-causing virus.”

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