Tuesday, 5 March 2019
Department of Health
308. To ask the Minister for Health when the HSE will roll out the HPV vaccine programme for boys; if there will be a catch-up programme for all school age boys over the age prescribed by the programme; if priority is given to boys who are homosexual or bisexual; if it is recognised by the HPV school programme that boys who are homosexual or bisexual are in a higher risk group than heterosexual boys; if there is another HPV vaccine programme or clinic in which teenage boys and young men who are homosexual or bisexual can receive the HPV vaccine; and if so, the cost of same. [10464/19]
In December 2018 the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) completed a health technology assessment (HTA) in relation to extending the national immunisation schedule to include the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination of boys. As the HPV vaccine is preventative it is intended to be administered, if possible, before a person becomes sexually active, that is, before a person is first exposed to HPV infection.
The HTA recommended that the HPV immunisation programme be extended to include boys with the introduction of a 9-valent HPV vaccine. Inclusion of a catch-up programme for males in sixth year in school as part of a gender-neutral programme was not considered a cost-effective option and therefore not recommended. However, a policy decision was made to extend the HPV immunisation programme to include boys and introduce a 9-valent HPV vaccine starting in September 2019.
The HSE National Immunisation Office are currently working towards preparing a gender-neutral HPV programme. Information materials and training on this will be available for parents and healthcare professionals in advance of the start of the gender-neutral programme.
HPV vaccination of boys provides direct protection against HPV-related disease that are attributable to boys. It also provides indirect herd protection to girls who have not been vaccinated. Another important factor includes the additional protection provided by a gender-neutral programme to vulnerable groups (for example, men who have sex with men).
HPV vaccination has been offered to HIV positive men and women under the age of 26 since 2016 through HIV clinics and, since January 2017, HPV vaccination has been offered to men who have sex with men (MSM) aged 16 to 26 through publicly-funded sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics in Ireland.