Today, Australia will become the first nation in the world to give the Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine to boys aged between 12-13 years old, with boys aged 14-15 expected to receive it in the coming months, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The vaccine, used to fight off 70 per cent of cervical cancers caused by HPV (human papilloma virus), has already been used to protect more than one million teenage girls in Australia between the ages of 12 and 16 under a free program.
Though boys cannot develop cervical cancer, they are still capable of carrying the virus and infecting female sexual partners.
Developed by Australian scientist Professor Ian Frazer, the vaccine has proven its value in several studies: Last year, Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital said Australia’s vaccination program had dropped the prevalence of some HPV types by 77 per cent.
“The addition of the HPV vaccine for young males on the National Immunisation Program is good news for the young men of Australia,” said Professor Frazer, who serves as CEO and Director of Research at the new Translational Research Institute and is also a leading researcher in immunotherapy at The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute.
“This is a very safe and effective vaccine and vaccinating boys will also further benefit women who have not been vaccinated through herd immunity.”
According to the University of Queensland, more than 23 million people in over 70 countries worldwide have been vaccinated.
In Australia, more than 900,000 teenage boys are expected to receive the vaccine over the next four years.
"We know that vaccinating boys will protect them from cancer and genital warts… and reduce the rates of cervical cancer among women,'' Health Minister Tanya Plibersek told the Daily Telegraph.
"If there was something you could do now, as a parent, that would protect your children from a range of cancers and disease in the future when they are adults, wouldn't you do it?'' she said.