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Taipei to roll out HPV vaccination for junior high school boys in 2024

12/11/2023 09:31 PM
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An educational exhibition promoting HPV awareness is held in Taipei in October 2023. CNA file photo
An educational exhibition promoting HPV awareness is held in Taipei in October 2023. CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 11 (CNA) Government-funded human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations will be rolled out for junior high school boys in Taipei in September next year, the city's Department of Health said on Monday.

At a press conference, the department said vaccinations will be available at 93 school campuses, aligning with the vaccination schedule for junior high school girls each year.

Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎), a pediatrician with National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), said not only can HPV infection cause cervical cancer in women but it is also closely linked to head and neck cancers in men.

Condyloma acuminata, commonly known as genital warts, is also associated with HPV and poses a risk regardless of gender, Lee said.

Many people falsely assume HPV infection can only be transmitted through sexual contact, the pediatrician said, noting that he once saw a newborn with genital warts from HPV.

The parents likely transmitted the disease to their child when changing diapers, as the newborn already had open sores on the skin due to diaper rash, Lee said.

An HPV vaccine is composed of viral capsid proteins and does not contain viral genetic material, he said, adding that it is safe, effective and has few side effects.

Health officials and medical workers promote HPV vaccination during a news conference in Taipei on Monday. CNA photo Dec. 11, 2023
Health officials and medical workers promote HPV vaccination during a news conference in Taipei on Monday. CNA photo Dec. 11, 2023

Chen Tseng-cheng (陳贈成), an attending physician in the Otolaryngology Department at NTUH, said there is an 80 percent chance people will be infected with HPV in their lifetime.

Men are more likely to be infected than women, are less likely to produce antibodies, have a harder time eliminating the virus, and are even prone to repeated infections, Chen said.

Both males and females are encouraged to take preventive measures against infection, he said.

In line with the policies of the Health Promotion Administration under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the vaccination rate of government-funded HPV vaccination among junior high school girls in Taipei has reached 91 percent, department commissioner Chen Yen-yuan (陳彥元) said.

The commissioner said the city government will allocate an additional NT$20-30 million (US$635,248-US$ 953,044) from its own budget each year to offer free HPV vaccination for junior high school boys.

Chiayi Mayor Huang Min-hui (left) is by the side of a eighth grader who receives a city-funded dose of HPV vaccine in April 2023. CNA file photo
Chiayi Mayor Huang Min-hui (left) is by the side of a eighth grader who receives a city-funded dose of HPV vaccine in April 2023. CNA file photo

In December 2018, Taiwan began a government-funded program offering school-based HPV vaccination nationwide for girls entering junior high.

Similar to the practice been applied to girls, the HPV vaccination for boys is voluntary and requires written approval from parents and the student, the Taipei health department said in a news release Monday.

This year, the Chiayi City government became the first in the country to offer this type of program for boys in the city's junior high schools.

(By Chen Yu-ting and Ko Lin)

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