The Irish Cancer Society is calling on the Government to introduce gender-neutral vaccination in budget 2019. Today marks the end of the public consultation period for the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) on extending the HPV vaccination programme to include boys.

Averil Power, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society said: “We welcome the opportunity to submit a response to the public consultation process on the HTA. We strongly support extending the free vaccination programme to boys, to provide equal access to the potentially life-saving vaccine, with an aim to eliminate HPV-associated cancers in Ireland in the future.”

HPV is responsible for a range of cancers in men including oropharyngeal, penile, anal, rectal, and head and neck cancers.

According to HIQA’s draft report, extending the free vaccine to boys would cost an additional €10.4 million over five years.

The Irish Cancer Society believes that such a relatively low cost will have significant benefits long into the future for our children, who will be protected against a number of cancers, and the health system which, with fewer cancers, will see a significant reduction in treatment costs.

Ms Power said: “Pending the results of the HTA, appropriate funding and resources must be allocated to support the successful implementation of gender-neutral vaccination in time for the new school year in September 2019.

“Alongside the vaccination roll-out, clear implementation plans, as well as comprehensive education and communication structures are needed, so that those administering the vaccine and health professionals are fully informed of the programme and are in a position to support parents.

“Similar to the HSE ‘Protect our Future' campaign, which encourages vaccination uptake in girls, an effective media communications campaign will be required to provide accurate information and research. This will help to create awareness and assure and educate parents and their sons about the importance of the vaccination, to encourage strong uptake rates," said Ms Power.

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