Australian boys on Friday became the first in the world to receive a vaccine against the dreaded cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV). A $21 million worth program, boys aged 12-13 will be the priority to get vaccinated with Gardasil, and then the aged 14-15 in coming months as part of a catch-up programme.
California governor Jerry Brown approved legislation that allows minor girls to receive HPV vaccine without parental consent.
Previously available only to girls, Australia's federal health department said more than 280,000 boys are eligible to receive this year the free Gardasil injections.
"I know that nobody likes getting needles, but getting this needle now, when you're young, will perhaps save your life in the future," Tanya Plibersek, federal health minister, told a group of Year 7 students, pointing out the vaccine will protect them from cancer and genital warts.
She said HPV infection was the leading cause of cervical cancer and genital warts, and that this can bear cancers in other parts of the body in both men and women.
"We know that vaccinating boys will protect them from cancer and genital warts.. and reduce the rates of cervical cancer among women,'' Ms Plibersek said.
"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.
More than 405,000 boys and girls are expected to have their initial vaccination this February, with follow-up doses scheduled from April and August.
By state, the vaccinations will be available to 64,000 boys across Years 8 and 10 as well as to 30,000 girls in Year 8 in Queensland, while it will be given to 92,000 boys in Years 7 and 9 as well as 46,000 Year 7 girls in New South Wales.
More than a million Australian girls aged between 12 and 16 have already been vaccinated for HPV.
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