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Boys can now vaccinate against HPV for free in Estonia

Vaccination.
Vaccination. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

While only girls aged 12-14 were eligible for free HPV vaccination in Estonia until recently, all schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 18 have the opportunity from February.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) has several forms. It could lead to malignant tumors. Kristjan Pomm, head of the Men's Clinic of the University of Tartu Hospital, said that making free vaccination available to both boys and girls is an important and necessary step.

"We can see that cases of throat cancer are on the rise, as well as rectal cancers. We need to take preventive measures. If we could achieve 80 percent inoculation among young people, we could see the virus disappear."

Pomm said that the HPV vaccine is different from other vaccines because side-effects are both extremely rate and mild.

"There are practically none, and the shot causes minimum pain. Compared to, for example, coronavirus vaccines that can cause fever, muscle pains and great discomfort, these are two completely different situations. Side-effects should not be feared in the case of HPV vaccines," the doctor said.

Pomm added that it is most effective to inoculate young people 12-18 years of age.

He said that international studies have proven the effectiveness of vaccinating against HPV before people become sexually active. And that it can reduce the prevalence of the virus. "It lowers the chance of developing cervical cancer and condyloma in women by quite some margin."

While the HPV vaccine used to consist of two doses, a single-dose vaccine is used these days, which provides just the same level of protection.

Külli Reinsalu, who works as a nurse at the Tallinn Open School, said they have received surprisingly positive feedback from parents.

"Parents are very knowledgeable about the disease and also want to inoculate their sons. We are seeing positive results in the very first weeks.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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