Boys in the UK will be given the HPV jab for the first time from September in a bid to wipe out cervical cancer.

It is believed the vaccine, which until now, had only been given to girls, will mean thousands of cases of other cancers can also be prevented.

HPV is a common cause for five cancers including cervical, anal, penile, throat and head.

Medical Vial with HPV Vaccine
Image: The vaccine was introduced for girls in 2008

From the start of the next school year, boys in Year 8 who are aged 12 and 13 will be given the jab with parental consent.

Figures from Public Health England (PHE) in December showed infections of some strains of HPV in youngsters aged 16-21 have fallen by 86% in England.

And new estimates suggest the vaccine, which protects against the human papillomavirus, will prevent more than 64,000 cervical cancers and almost 50,000 non-cervical cancers by 2058.

This will include 3,433 cases of penile cancer and 21,395 cases of head and neck cancer, such as throat cancer, in men.

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The government also says giving boys the jab also protects girls from HPV, which is passed on through sexual contact.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England told Sky News: “The girls’ programme has been very successful so far and it’s already seen an impact in men as well as women.

The HPV vaccine is now given to girls aged 12 to 13
Image: The vaccine was introduced for girls in 2008

“But we’re hoping by adding boys to this it will accelerate the impact of the vaccination programme bringing rates down even more quickly.”

She added: “That will protect those men against HPV and future cancer and also protect their partners and therefore affect overall men and women and reduce cancer in the future.”

In order for the process to be successful and effective, boys will have to take two doses of the jab.

Dr Ramsay said: “I encourage all parents of eligible boys and girls to make sure they take up the offer for this potentially life-saving vaccine.

“It’s important not to delay vaccination, as the vaccine may be less effective as adolescents get older.”

In 2010, Jamie Rae was diagnosed with throat cancer which was caused by HPV.

He’s campaigned for this change for the last six years.

Jamie Rae was diagnosed with throat cancer caused by HPV
Image: Jamie Rae was diagnosed with throat cancer caused by HPV

He told Sky News the pain and difficulties he had to deal with when going through his treatment.

“When the doctor explained to me I had cancer caused by a virus, I was extremely shocked.

“First of all I had no idea that a virus could cause cancer, and when I looked into it myself and discovered that hundreds of thousands of cancers are caused every year by this virus, I was appalled.”

He added: “It was shocking, it was terrifying.

“There’s over a hundred types of this virus, albeit only a certain number of them cause cancer.

“But it was very, very frightening and I think there’s a great lack of awareness in the public that HPV can cause cancer other than cervical cancer but it’s very dangerous and people must be aware of it.”

Whilst Jamie Rae welcomes the movement, he believes there should be a catch-up programme for older boys up to the age of 18.

When the vaccinations were introduced for girls in 2008, there was a focus on getting the jab for those who had missed out, but that won’t be the case this time round.

The vaccine is expected to prevent 64,000 cervical cancers and almost 50,000 other cancers by 2058
Image: The vaccine is expected to prevent 64,000 cervical cancers and almost 50,000 other cancers by 2058

Dr Ramsay from PHE said: “When we introduced the girls programme in 2008 we did a catch up.

“Up to the age of 18 we really do get a fast impact to produce this herd protection to prevent circulation in the population.

“That is already established and we’re already protecting older boys through that, so the benefit of the programmes is not as large as it was for girls.

“So our priority really is to get the programme into younger boys before they get infected and there are programmes in place to mop up older boys particularly at risk.”

Figures out in December showed 83.8% of girls completed the two-dose HPV vaccination course in 2017/18, compared with 83.1% in 2016/17 and 85.1% in 2015/16.

PHE said the programme meant infections of some strains of HPV in youngsters aged 16 to 21 have fallen by 86% in England.

The government says giving boys the vaccine can also prevent girls getting HPV
Image: The government says giving boys the vaccine can also prevent girls getting HPV

But parents from southwest England told Sky News they had mixed feelings about the announcement.

One father said: “It’s potentially a positive step I think and prevention is better than cure, however I think there’s a bit more data that’s needed and public consultation is required before we say ‘yes’.”

A mother added: “At the end of the day everyone wants the safety of their own children, no one wants their kids to be sick – so that’s why we’re happy for the boys to have it as well.”

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