Catalonia to offer HPV vaccine to 11 and 12-year-old boys
An estimated 85% to 90% of sexually active people acquire human papillomavirus at some point in their lives
Boys in Catalonia in 6th grade – 11 to 12-year-olds – will be offered vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) during the next school year.
The Catalan health department announced the measure on Monday – the first of its kind in Spain – saying the aim is to ensure protection against HPV infection in boys as well as girls. The percentage of girls vaccinated in Catalonia during the 2020-21 academic year was 86%.
An estimated 85% to 90% of sexually active people will acquire HPV at some point in their lives.
Speaking to the Catalan News Agency (ACN), public health secretary Carmen Cabezas, said that vaccination has a "very significant" effect on genital warts, but that it will also help to prevent cancer.
"In girls we have seen it is mainly related to cervical cancer, and in the case of boys it is related to genital and oral cancers," she explained. Cabezas pointed out that HPV was linked to "three times as many" cases of cancer in women than in men.
By including boys in vaccine program, Catalonia joins several other European countries who have a similar scheme: Austria, Germany, Belgium, Croatia, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Norway, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland. In Spain, the Catalan health system will be the first to implement the measure.
Catalan health minister Josep Maria Argimon explained that vaccinating boys as well as girls is a recommended by the European Commission (EC) and various other entities
An investment of €8.2m will lead to the purchase of 175,000 vaccine doses for the next school year, including around 70,000 for boys.
Vaccines in Catalonia are not mandatory and are free of charge. In a non-pandemic year, more than 3.2m vaccines are typically administered to 1.5 million people across almost 1,000 vaccination centers, preventing more than 33,000 illnesses a year.