Boys get vaccine

Equal take-up of HPV immunisation

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by Alexia Johnston

Boys are queuing up for the HPV vaccine in South Canterbury in equal numbers to girls.
The free year 8, school-based HPV vaccination programme was made available to boys for the first time this year.
Although exact figures were not available, South Canterbury District Health Board child and youth manager Sarah Greensmith said equal numbers of boys and girls were participating.
“Just under 40% of year 8s will be vaccinated at school. We have not finished yet, but this is what the numbers are looking like,” she said.
The free HPV vaccination has been available to girls throughout New Zealand since 2008 and was made available to boys through the subsidy only at the start of this year.
Until now, boys had to pay about $200 per dose.
Community and public health medical officer of health Dr Daniel Williams said the school-based programme was the most convenient way to protect children against HPV – human papillomavirus – which affects both males and females.
“HPV infection can cause cervical cancer, throat and mouth cancers, and genital cancers. HPV vaccine has been shown to significantly reduce HPV infection, genital warts and pre-cancerous lesions in women and men,” he said.
Not all parents gave permission for their child to take part in the programme for a range of reasons, including wanting to wait until their child was older before receiving the vaccine, he said.
Others had preferred to receive it through primary care.