Welsh shadow Health Secretary calls for free painkillers to be scrapped to fund HPV vaccine

In Wales, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine is available to girls aged 12-13, and men who have sex with men aged 16-45.

HPV is primarily known to cause cervical cancer, but can also cause other cancers by affecting the throat, head and neck, vagina and penis.

According to consultant clinical oncologist Dr Mererid Evans, rates of oropharyngeal cancer (head, neck, tonsils, tongue and throat) have trebled in Wales over the past 15 years.

She pointed to a link between these instances and HPV.

Angela Burns, shadow Health Secretary for the Welsh Conservative party said that

painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen and co-codomol could be bought for pennies on the high street.

She claimed the saving would be “more than enough” to subsidise vaccinating the 36,764 boys aged 12 to 13 in Wales – saying it would cost about £11m.

Ms Burns said failing to do so would “deny young boys a lifetime of protection from a cancer-causing virus” – but by doing so the government could save itself tens of millions on future cancer care costs.

The proposal highlights the cost-benefits of investing in vaccination more widely, highlighted in the SAATI (Supporting Active Ageing Through Immunisation) coalition’s report ‘Adult vaccination – a key component of healthy ageing’

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