30 May 2016

Anti-cancer vaccine for boys being considered

7:08 pm on 30 May 2016

Pharmac is considering offering an anti-cancer vaccine to boys from January next year.

The human papillomavirus vaccine, known as Gardasil, is currently only offered to Year 8 girls to protect them against cervical cancer as they grow older.

Doctors have urged that the vaccine be also given to boys, amid warnings that cancers caused by the virus, such as in the throat and tongue, will surpass cervical cancer rates in five years time.

Pharmac's operations director Sarah Fitt said it had renegotiated a package of vaccine deals with several drug companies, which made extending the programme more affordable.

"We've sort of run a package of agreements and through this process we've been able to generate some quite significant savings, which then enables us to widen access to vaccines which that currently funded."

Sarah Fitt says 100,000 people will benefit from the improved vaccine schedule.

Other changes being proposed to the National Immunisation Schedule include introducing a vaccine against chicken pox for all 15-month-olds, changing several vaccine brands and moving to a two dose vaccine against rotavirus.

Public consultation on the changes closes in mid-June.

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