The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is an independent committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland which is comprised of experts from several specialties, including infectious diseases, paediatrics, and public health, which makes recommendations to my Department on vaccination policy in Ireland. Its recommendations are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practice in relation to immunisation. NIAC made a recommendation that the HPV vaccine should be given to boys.
On foot of NIAC’s recommendation, my Department asked the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to undertake a health technology assessment (HTA) in relation to extending the national immunisation schedule to include human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination of boys. HIQA completed the HTA in Q4 2018 and published its report on its website on 7 December 2018.
The HTA recommended that the HPV immunisation programme be extended to include boys with the introduction of a 9-valent HPV vaccine. Inclusion of a catch-up programme for males in sixth year in school as part of a gender neutral programme was not considered a cost-effective option and therefore not recommended. A policy decision was made to extend the HPV immunisation programme to include boys and introduce a 9-valent HPV vaccine starting in September 2019.
The HSE National Immunisation Office is developing information materials and a communication strategy for a gender neutral HPV programme which will be available for parents and healthcare professionals in advance of the start of the gender neutral programme.