The HPV vaccine programme is set to be extended to boys aged 12 to 13, in a bid to prevent more cancer cases.
The jab has been offered to young girls aged 12 to 18 since 2008, with 80 per cent of women aged 15-24 having had received the vaccine.
The programme is having very positive results, as HPV types 16/18 in 16-21 year old women have reduced by 86 per cent in England.
As around 80 per cent of cervical cancers are caused by these types of HPV, Public Health England say they ‘expect to see big reductions in cervical cancer in years to come’.
Now health officials hope to prevent another 29,000 cancers in UK men in the next 40 years, by giving the HPV vaccine to boys as well.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England, told Sky News: ‘The girls’ programme has been very successful so far and it’s already seen an impact in men as well as women.
‘But we’re hoping by adding boys to this it will accelerate the impact of the vaccination programme bringing rates down even more quickly.
‘That will protect those men against HPV and future cancer and also protect their partners and therefore affect overall men and women and reduce cancer in the future.”
‘I encourage all parents of eligible boys and girls to make sure they take up the offer for this potentially life-saving vaccine.’
Boys aged 12 to 13 will be offered the vaccine in secondary schools, for free, from September, when the school year starts. They will need parental permission, but Dr Ramsay warns that the earliest they receive the jab the better, as it can be less effective once teenagers start being sexually active.
‘It’s important not to delay vaccination, as the vaccine may be less effective as adolescents get older’, she added.