3 Feb 2009

No plans for Gardasil vaccine for boys - ministry

4:08 pm on 3 February 2009

The Ministry of Health says it has no immediate plans to roll out a programme of the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil to boys.

The vaccine is available on the private market to boys between the ages of 9 and 15 and is free for girls aged 12 to 18.

But the vaccine's maker Merck Sharp & Dohme plans to apply to have it licensed for men up to the age of 26.

The ministry's chief adviser for population health, Greg Simmonds, says there is no reason why the vaccine cannot be used in males, but penile cancer is much rarer than cervical cancer.

Dr Simmonds says at present, the ministry's focus is on preventing the disease which is most prevalent.

The Immunisation Advisory Centre backs the proposal to extend the licence for Gardasil to adult males, saying the vaccine has been shown to be very effective in preventing penile and other genital cancers.