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BSI response to JCVI announcement on provision of HPV vaccine to boys

19 July 2017

The Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have today announced their decision regarding extending Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination to adolescent boys.  Following analysis of the best available scientific evidence, the JVCI have concluded that, while there are small additional benefits to be gained from introducing routine HPV vaccination for boys, this would not be a cost-effective use of health service resources in the UK. They therefore decided not to recommend routinely providing boys with the HPV vaccine.  In response, the British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement: 

Professor Peter Openshaw, President of the British Society for Immunology said:

“Although the HPV vaccine was originally introduced in 2008 to prevent cervical cancer in women, it’s recognised that HPV causes a number of other diseases in both sexes including genital warts, a variety of cancers (including those of the anus) and some types of mouth and throat cancer.

“The decision to provide this vaccine to girls represented a major step forward in public health provision in the UK, allowing us to protect future generations of girls from contracting cervical cancers initiated by this virus and also conferring a lower level of protection from HPV to boys through the effects of herd immunity. 

“It's important that decisions on healthcare provision are based on a rigorous and objective analysis of the scientific evidence.  In this case, the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the independent expert advisory panel which makes decisions on vaccine provision in the UK, has concluded that it is not currently recommended to routinely provide boys with the HPV vaccine as this would ‘result in relatively small gains in health benefits’ and ‘not be a cost-effective use of public money’ given the high rates of vaccine uptake in young women in the UK. It is also important to recognise the benefits of vaccination for men who contract HPV by having sex with men, who would not be protected by female vaccination.  

“The British Society for Immunology recognises the huge public health benefits that vaccines can confer to the population, but decisions must be guided by the evidence of cost effectiveness.  It is now crucial that we redouble efforts to ensure that HPV vaccination rates in girls remain high and that we actively communicate the benefits of the vaccination to parents and children. We trust that the JCVI will keep fully abreast of any new research in this area and continue to base their decisions on the best current evidence.” 

The JCVI Interim Statement on Extending HPV Vaccination to Adolescent Boys can be found here