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Finland to start giving boys HPV vaccine

Finland will start inoculating boys in grades 5-9, and in future give the shot in fifth grade. 

HPV-rokote annetaan olkavarteen.
Girls have been vaccinated against HPV since 2013 in Finland. Image: AOP

From this autumn boys in Finland will be offered the vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

The vaccine has previously been offered to girls, as a measure that can prevent cervical and other cancers in later life.

"We know more about how much papillomavirus is linked to different kinds of cancer," said Ulpu Elonsalo of Finland's health agency the THL. "Papillomavirus causes head and neck cancers, and penis and anal cancers, among others."

At first the shot will be given to boys in grades 5-9, and in future it will be part of the national vaccination programme and given in the fifth grade. The vaccination comes in two doses.

In addition to protecting the boys who receive it, the vaccine will also cut down HPV transmission in the community, giving additional protection to girls as well, according to Elonsalo.

Without the HPV vaccine around 80 percent of the population will be exposed to the virus at some stage in their lives. Most people recover, but around a tenth of those who get the infection have it for longer and can get precursors of cancer.

According to the working group set up to look at the HPV vaccine, inoculating 70 percent of the population will prevent nearly 300 cancers each year. Of those 200 would be among girls, and 90 among boys.

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