Children at school.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Starting in September, the Health Ministry will offer the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) to eighth-grade boys in addition to girls, to prevent the boys from eventually transmitting the virus to girls.
The expansion to boys was made possible because relatively few modern Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox parents have been willing for their daughters to get the shots. As HPV is sexually transmitted and protects against vaginal warts that may lead to cervical cancer, rabbis have argued that religious girls don’t need the vaccinations because they don’t indulge in premarital sex.
Money was also saved by new research indicating that, up to age 14, only two vaccinations – not the three previously thought – are necessary.
The ministry approved the vaccination for eighth-grade girls in 2013, when the vaccine – called Gardasil and manufactured by MSD Pharmaceuticals – cost more than NIS 600 per pupil.
A spokeswoman for MSD said that those over age 14 still need to take a series of three vaccinations. She also said that 70 percent of secular girls have been vaccinated, and while the rates among religious girls was much lower she didn’t have the latest figures.
The Health Ministry’s public health department said on Monday that by offering the shots to boys as well, “Israel joins the front line of Western countries that give maximum protection against the human papillomavirus and the diseases that result from it.”