What is the HPV vaccine and when will the vaccination programme start to include boys?

HPV is the name given to a very common group of viruses.

There are many types of HPV some of which are seen as “high risk” as they can cause a number of cancers.

The papilloma virus can cause a number of serious health problems
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What is the HPV vaccine?

The vaccine helps protect against cancers which can be caused by the virus, including cervical cancer, some mouth and throat cancers as well as cancers in the gentital and anal areas, according to the NHS.

It also protects against genital warts.

The vaccine is administered in two doses. It is first given to children in Year 8 at school (ages 12-13) and then a second dose 6 to 12 months later.

Both doses need to be given to be protected.

But anyone who missed their HPV vaccination at school can continue to have the vaccine up to their 25th birthday.

The HPV vaccine is currently given as a series of 2 injections into the upper arm.

People who get their first vaccination dose at the age of 15 or older will need to have 3 injections.

Studies have already shown that the vaccine protects against HPV infection for at least 10 years, although experts expect protection to last for much longer.

Now boys will be included in the vaccination programme in England
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When will the vaccination programme start to include boys?

When the vaccination programme was first rolled out only girls were offered the vaccine but it was announced in July 2018 that boys aged 12 to 13 in England would also be vaccinated.

From the 2019-20 school year, 12- to 13-year-old boys and girls will both be eligible for the HPV vaccine.

The decision was taken after advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, an independent body that advises the UK health departments.

Older boys will not be offered the vaccine as, according to the NHS, evidence suggests they’re already benefitting greatly from the indirect protection (known as herd protection) that’s built up from 10 years of the girls’ HPV vaccination programme.

Schoolchildren need two doses of the vaccine for it to be effective
Getty – Contributor

What does HPV stand for?

HPV stands for human papillomavirus.

There are more than 100 different types of HPV, some forms can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers.

Around 40 of those affect the genital area.

But HPV infections do not usually cause any symptoms and most people who have the virus will not know they are infected.

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