HPV vaccination rates reach new heights in New England

NEW England has one the highest vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV) in girls, but local doctors say boys need to lift their game when it comes to immunisation.

New figures revealed full-immunisation rates for HPV for 15-year-old females had climbed nationally to about 79 per cent.

Girls of the New England North West are batting above the Australian average, and are close to setting the benchmark, with 82.3 per cent vaccinated.

Boys don't just assist in the spread of HPV through sexual contact. Boys also suffer later in life.

Dr Casey Sullivan

Meanwhile, only 69.7 per cent of boys in the region have had the three-dose vaccination by the age of 15.

“Boys don't just assist in the spread of HPV through sexual contact.” GP Casey Sullivan said.

“Boys also suffer later in life with penile, rectal, mouth and throat cancers.”

It’s the first time male immunisation rates against HPV have been identified at a local level.

The National HPV vaccination program was only extended to males in 2013 and Dr Sullivan said parents were still more aware of their vaccinations for their daughters rather than their sons.

“We start to be exposed to this virus from our first sexual intercourse,” she said.

“However, if we vaccinate teens before they become sexually active, vaccinations will help reduce cervical cancer in adult women, and help reduce the spread of HPV.”

NSW Health director of communicable diseases Dr Vicky Sheppeard said, while rates were improving 20 per cent of 12 to 13 year-old boys were not vaccinated against HPV

“In NSW, extended catch-up vaccinations are offered to students who commence, but do not complete, the three-dose course of HPV vaccine in Year 7,” Dr Sheppeard said.