Following on from a recommendation by Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), boys in first year of secondary school are now being offered the HPV vaccine for the first time.
Since 2010, girls in secondary school have been offered a form of the vaccine that protects against four types of Human Papilloma Viruses (HPV).
Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, chief executive of Irish Cancer Society said although HPV can cause cervical cancer, it also causes some cancers in men such as penile cancer, anal cancer and head and neck cancers in both men and women.
She said: “HPV is an incredibly common virus – 80% of us will be infected at some stage.
“For most people your immune system will clear it, but for many it doesn’t, and as a result we lose 130 people, men and women, in Ireland every year that die from HPV related cancers.”
However, boys who are in second year or above in secondary school will be able to receive the vaccine through their GP, an issue Irish Cancer Society has raised with Minister for Health, Simon Harris.
Power said: “We want every parent to have the opportunity to get it for a girl or boy, particularly under 15, but even if you have to go to your GP, we would urge parents to do that, because we have an opportunity here, and it’s really quite remarkable to eliminate a whole form of cancer.
“Even where treatment is successful, the consequences for your life of some of these cancers can be really horrific.
“Many women with cervical cancer will find that their treatment has made them infertile or extremely difficult to have a family, or other physical impacts.
“It’s really important, the vaccine is safe, it’s effective, it’s recommended by the World Health Organisation.
“Australia was the first country to vaccinate girls in 2007, and what they’re now seeing in women in their 20s is that they don’t have HPV, they’re not seeing the pre-cancers that would go on to cause cancers in those women later in life. That for us is really quite remarkable.”