Cancer Council Victoria is reminding parents of boys in Year 9 to ensure their son completes the three dose HPV vaccination course, given this is the last opportunity for them to have the vaccine for free.
Director of the Prevention Division at Cancer Council Victoria, Craig Sinclair, says: “Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very 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.”
The vaccine, given at school, prevents 90% of all HPV-related cancers in men, such as cancers of the penis, anus, and oropharynx and 90% of genital warts, and has been hailed as a breakthrough in preventative health.
This year marks five years since the vaccine was introduced in Australia as part of the National Immunisation Program, which recommends girls and boys having the vaccine at 12–13 years of age. However, the vaccine is also being offered to boys aged 14–15 years for free until the end of 2014, as part of a catch up program.
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.”
If your child has already missed a dose at school, contact your local council for details of community catch-up sessions in 2014. GPs can also administer all three doses of the vaccine to boys aged 14–15 in 2014. The vaccine is free but the GP may charge a consultation fee. After 2014, missed doses will need to be purchased from a health service provider at a cost of approximately $150 each.
The HPV vaccine is safe, effective and has no serious side effects. If you are unsure if your son is fully immunised, please contact the National HPV Vaccination Program Register on 1800 478 734. Find out more information about the vaccine at hpvvaccine.org.au or call the Cancer Council Victoria Helpline 13 11 20.