Teenage boys will now be offered a cancer-preventing HPV vaccine across Greenwich borough.School nurses will administer the free vaccine in two doses, six to 12 months apart, to all Year Eight boys taking up the offer.
In the UK, girls, aged 12 to 13 have been offered the HPV vaccine since 2008, resulting in a reduction in the number of HPV-related infections.
In men, many cancers of the mouth, throat, genitals and bottom are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
It can also cause warts on the genitals, skin, voice box and vocal cords (laryngeal papillomas) and verccuas. Among girls, HPV is also responsible for most cervical cancers.
Nationally, the number of people with mouth and throat cancer caused by HPV is increasing. However, it is estimated that through vaccination the number of people developing these cancers will reduce in the future.
Public Health England estimates that by offering the vaccine to boys and girls, by 2058 it will prevent more than 114,000 people getting cancer. This includes 64,000 cases of cervical cancer and 29,000 cancers in men.
HPV infections can be spread by skin-to-skin contact and are usually found on the fingers, hands, mouth and genitals. The HPV vaccine works best if boys and girls receive it before they become sexually active.
Councillor Averil Lekau, Cabinet Member for Adults Social Care and Health at The Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: “I am delighted that boys across our borough will now benefit from the HPV vaccination, and hope that all parents encourage the uptake of this valuable vaccine at our schools”.
Krishna Subbarayan, chair of NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and a local GP, said: "I applaud the news that the HPV vaccination will be extended to boys. I encourage all parents of eligible boys and girls to make sure they take up the offer for this potentially life-saving vaccine.
"In time, this will lead to a significant reduction in cancers of the anus, penis and mouth and throat.
It's important not to delay vaccination, as the vaccine may be less effective as boys get older.”