Why did Hiqa decide to extend vaccine?
Hiqa said it had, following a health technology assessment, decided to extend the HPV vaccination programme to include boys because 25 per cent of HPV cancers occur in men.
Dr Máirín Ryan, Hiqa deputy chief executive, said there are about 540 cases of HPV related cancers each year in the State.
“While 75 per cent occur in women, 25 per cent occur in men, that’s over 100 cases of HPV related cancer in men each year,” she said.
“In addition HPV causes anogential warts, there are between 7,000 and 9,500 cases of anogenital warts in both men and women each year so men do have the potential to benefit substantially from HPV vaccination.
“It can cause cancer of the oropharynx area at the back of the throat - it affects both men and women, it can cause penile and anogenital cancer in men as well.”
She went on to explain that as part of the assessment Hiqa carried out there was a “very substantial assessment of the best available evidence on the safety of HPV vaccine”.
“We looked at data that came from 70,000 trial participants and over 20 million individuals who received the vaccination in observational studies.
“What we found from assessing that evidence base is that there is no increased incidents of serious adverse events associated with the vaccine by comparison with those who received either a placebo or control,” she said.
“There are no indications of serious side effects associated with HPV vaccine . . . cervical cancer is a terrible disease, this is safe and effective and needs to be promoted.”