Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine to be given to teenage boys in world first

Posted on Mar 8, 2013 in Vaccines

AUSTRALIAN teenage boys will become the first in the world to receive the groundbreaking cervical cancer vaccine from today even though its a cancer they won’t ever develop.

Boys aged 12-13 will be vaccinated with Gardasil at schools around the country and in coming months boys aged 14-15 will get the jab as part of a catch up program.

More than one million teenage girls aged 12-16 have already been vaccinated under the free program that is expected to reduce the 700 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year.

The vaccine fights off 70 per cent of cervical cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and although boys can’t develop the cancer they still carry the virus and can infect female sexual partners.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, who will launch the free vaccination program for boys at Newtown High School of Performing Arts in Sydney, said vaccinating boys will improve herd immunity.

“We know that vaccinating boys will protect them from cancer and genital warts.. and reduce the rates of cervical cancer among women,” she says.

“If there was something you could do now, as a parent, that would protect your children from a range of cancers and disease in the future when they are adults, wouldn’t you do it,” she said.

New research suggests the HPV vaccine could also protect males and females from other types of cancer such as cancer of the tonsils which has been associated with the HPV virus.

The virus has also been linked to the development of cancers of the anus, penis, mouth and throat.

The vaccine was developed by Australian scientist Professor Ian Frazer who has already had his three sons vaccinated with Gardasil.

Last year research at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital found the vaccination program had resulted in a 77 per cent reduction in some human papilloma virus (HPV) types.

Researchers compared HPV prevalence two years before the vaccine was introduced and two years after and found a decrease of 20 per cent in genital HPV prevalence in the group of 400 women.

More than 900,000 teenage boys are expected to receive the vaccine over the next four years under the $21 million program.
Source:  Sue Dunlevy – News Limited Network  – February 15, 2013