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First dose of vaccine for boys
Australian schoolboys have begun receiving the first of three vaccinations to protect them against cancers and disease caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced today.
Plibersek said more than 280,000 boys will be eligible for the free Gardasil vaccine this year, which is estimated to prevent a quarter of new HPV infections. Vaccination will protect boys from cancer and genital warts, and continue to reduce the rates of cervical cancer among women.
In July, schoolboys will join more than one million Australian girls aged 12-16 years who have already been fully vaccinated against HPV under the school vaccination program.
“The HPV vaccine is the best protection against the HPV virus; a virus that infects four out of five sexually active people at some point in their lives and is linked to cancer and other disease,” Plibersek said.
“Because of our work in this area, Australia’s HPV vaccine coverage rates are among the best in the world, resulting in a significant drop in HPV-related infections.”
Since the HPV vaccination program started in 2007 there has been a reduction in HPV-related infections in young women and a reduced incidence of genital warts in males and females. There has also been a reduction in pre-cancerous lesions in young women.
“We’re confident that extending the program to males will reduce HPV-related cancers and disease in the future,” Plibersek continued.
More than 400,000 boys and girls will start to have their first vaccination this month, with follow up doses from April and August. The vaccinations will be delivered by qualified immunisation providers in all states and territories, but only if parents and guardians provide their consent.
Parents, students and health professionals can find more information about the HPV school vaccination program at australia.gov.au/hpv.