PARENTS of south-west boys in year 9 are reminded to ensure their sons complete the three doses of the HPV vaccination while it’s still free.
This year marks five years since the vaccine was introduced in Australia as part of the National Immunisation Program, which recommends girls and boys have the vaccine at 12-13 years of age. But the vaccine is being offered to boys aged 14-15 for free until the end of 2014 as part of a catch-up program.
Cancer Council Victoria director of prevention Craig Sinclair said genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually-transmitted infection which usually causes no symptoms and goes away by itself.
“But if left undetected, can cause cancer. The HPV vaccine (Gardasil) can significantly decrease your son’s chances of developing HPV-related illnesses, including cancer, later in life and genital warts,” he said.
The vaccine prevents 90 per cent of all HPV-related cancers in men, such as cancers of the penis, anus and oropharynx and 90 per cent of genital warts.
Mr Sinclair emphasised that all three doses of the vaccine are needed to ensure maximum protection. “The vaccine course takes six months to complete, so boys need to get the first dose now to fully benefit from the catch-up program, which is only available until the end of 2014,” he said.
After 2014, missed doses will need to be purchased from a health service provider at a cost of approximately $150 each.