Young Australian males will receive the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) free of charge in a world-first public health measure that will help prevent a range of cancers.
Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced the plan yesterday at the Diamantina Institute in Queensland, where the vaccine was developed by Professor Ian Frazer and his team.
The HPV vaccine has already contributed to a decrease in pre-cancerous cervical lesions in young women.
When administered to males, it will help prevent cancers of the genital tract, some types of head and neck cancers, and it will also enhance the vaccine’s effectiveness in women.
Boys aged 12 – 13 will receive the vaccine through school-based programs under the National Immunisation Program, with Year 9 boys also included in a two-year catch-up plan.
Professor Ian Frazer, co-creator of the vaccine and Chairman of the ACRF Medical Research Advisory Committee is pleased to see Australia leading the way with such an important public health measure.
“The addition of the HPV vaccine for young males on the National Immunisation Program is good news,” he said. “This is a very safe and effective vaccine and vaccinating boys will also further benefit women who have not been vaccinated through herd immunity.”
“I am encouraged to see that the introduction of the HPV vaccination program for girls, established in 2007, is already showing promising results in reducing pre-cancerous conditions.”
The government’s decision to fund this $21 million plan will continue Australia’s reputation as a pioneer in immunisation.
Australia was the first country to provide free HPV vaccinations for girls, and one of the first to introduce polio and measles vaccinations.
View the Diamantina Institute’s press release here.