SOUTHEND students have fronted a national campaign highlighting the importance of the cancer-fighting Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine - now being made available to boys across the UK.

Students from Chase High School, Westcliff, and Thorpe Hall School, Great Wakering, were chosen to feature on national information leaflets and posters about the benefits of the vaccine.

Until now the vaccine has only been offered to girls but, as part of a national directive, the vaccination scheme has been extended to include boys, aged 12 and 13.

HPV vaccine protects against some cancers of the mouth, throat, anal and genital areas. It can also protect against genital warts and, in girls, also offers protection against cervical cancer.

Andrew James, headteacher at Chase High School, said: “We were very pleased to be asked to take part in this important national campaign and as a school we are offering the HPV vaccine to both boys and girls for the first time this year.

“We applaud the NHS strategies to reduce cancer across the country and we are happy to support their vital work.”

A Government decision to offer the vaccination to boys was made in July 2018 as a result of scientific evidence and advice from an independent panel of experts.

Working in partnership with Southend Council, nurses from Essex Partnership University NHS Trust’s vaccination teams will be visiting schools to deliver vaccinations to boys whose parents have given prior consent.

Andrew Hampton, headteacher at Thorpe Hall School, is pleased.

He said: “We were delighted our students could play a part in such an important campaign to raise awareness of the HPV vaccination for boys and its role in the prevention of many forms of cancer.”

Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning at Southend Council, said: “Following the success of the HPV vaccine for girls, I’m pleased the programme is being extended to include boys.

“As a parent you want to do all you can to protect your children from ill health, especially cancer, which is why the offer of this vaccine is so important.

“As the scientific evidence supports the fact that this vaccine protects boys from HPV then I urge parents to sign their children up to have it.”

HPV causes around 9,000 cancers each year in the UK, most of which can be prevented with the vaccine.

Globally, HPV is responsible for five per cent of all cancers of all cancers.

Anyone with questions about the HPV vaccination can contact the immunisation team on 01702 220181.