Boys in primary schools will now be eligible to receive human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the Ministry of Health has said.
This, the ministry said, will help prevent its transmission to women as the virus is sexually transmitted and men are the carriers.
Dr Mary Nyangasi, head of the National Cancer Control Programme in Kenya, said initially the ministry targeted only nine-year-old girls because the doses received were very few, thus they only gave to the most vulnerable group.
On the other hand, the vaccine prevents boys from getting infected with the HPV types that can cause cancers of the mouth or throat, penis and anus as well as genital warts.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is currently only given to girls, aged nine to 14 years.
The vaccine is given as a preventive measure against HPV which is the main cause of cervical cancer in women.
Speaking on Tuesday in Nairobi during a cervical cancer awareness meeting organized by Kilele Health Association Dr Nyangasi said the ministry will enroll boys this year after they get enough stock.
“We are still negotiating for more doses, the world is moving towards vaccinating all boys and girls between nine to 14 years,” she said.
She said Kenya’s goal is to vaccinate all boys and girls aged nine to 14 years.
As of now, 60 percent of all eligible girls have received the first of the recommended two doses.
The vaccination provides protection against HPV types 16 and 18 which are responsible for approximately 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases.
Only the Gardasil HPV vaccine, which is licensed in Kenya, is recommended for boys.
HPV vaccines have been in use in the private sector in Kenya since 2006. The ministry first conducted a pilot in 2013–2015 in Kitui County before introducing them in public facilities.
Although the actual uptake has been low, the uptake has improved from 25 percent in 2019 to 33 per cent in 2020 and the currently at 60 percent.