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

18 July 2018

The Government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have today announced their decision regarding whether the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination should be given to adolescent boys. In response, the British Society for Immunology has issued the following statement:.

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

“As recent studies have shown, the introduction of the HPV vaccine to girls in 2008 to prevent cervical cancer has been a major step forward in public health provision, significantly decreasing HPV infections in 16–21-year-old women by 86%.  In addition to cervical cancer, the human papilloma virus causes a number of diseases that affect both sexes, such as genital warts and a variety of cancers including those of the anus, mouth and throat.  This safe and effective vaccine has given us the ability to provide protection against, and significantly decrease levels of, these serious diseases within our communities and ultimately save lives.  The British Society for Immunology supports the extension of the HPV vaccination to boys.

“Today’s statement from the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on HPV vaccination for boys is complex and requires careful consideration.  Their recommendation on whether boys should receive the HPV vaccine hinges on what discount rate the Department of Health and Social Care decide to adopt – this is the rate used to calculate the level of health benefits that any vaccination might confer to people throughout their lives.  Using the current methodology, which has a 3.5% discount rate, providing the vaccine to boys is not cost-effective.  However, the committee argue that for this vaccine, a revised rate of 1.5% could better take into account the long-term benefits of HPV vaccination.  If this recommended revised rate was used, the Committee state that it would support extending HPV vaccination to adolescent boys.  We await, with interest, a response from the Department of Health and Social Care on this point.

“It's important that decisions on healthcare provision are based on a rigorous and objective analysis of the scientific evidence.  The British Society for Immunology celebrates the huge health benefits that the HPV vaccine can deliver to all.  Alongside decisions on who is eligible to receive the vaccine, it’s also crucial that we maintain efforts to actively communicate the important health benefits of this vaccine to parents and children.”

You can read the full statement from the JCVI on their website.