Scottish GP: Why I paid for my teenage sons to get the HPV vaccine

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A Scottish GP has paid out more than £700 so her teenage sons can receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Carolyn Calder's boys James and Oliver, aged 16 and 14 are too young to benefit from the vaccination programme being introduced to all first year boys in secondary schools in Scotland.

Carolyn Calder's boys James and Oliver, aged 16 and 14 are too young to benefit from the vaccination programme being introduced to all first year boys in secondary schools in Scotland. Picture: BBC SCOTLAND

Carolyn Calder's boys James and Oliver, aged 16 and 14 are too young to benefit from the vaccination programme being introduced to all first year boys in secondary schools in Scotland. Picture: BBC SCOTLAND

Dr Calder spoke to BBC Scotland about her decision to pay for it privately. She said the move would give her "piece of mind".

The GP told the broadcaster that she has set-up a private clinic in Glasgow for others who want to pay for the vaccine but believes all teenage boys should be offered it on the NHS.

Dr Calder said: "It became very apparent to me that there was lots of evidence that HPV vaccination is needed in boys as well as girls.

"From 2008, the government has been vaccinating girls for cervical cancer and there's a recognised need for that and the programme has been very successful.

Dr Calde said the move would give her "piece of mind". Picture: BBC SCOTLAND

Dr Calde said the move would give her "piece of mind". Picture: BBC SCOTLAND

"But what we realised for our boys was that there are other cancers which are also a risk, and they can hopefully be avoided by having the vaccination."

The GP admits that going private is a costly option.

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She said: "Unfortunately it's not a cheap vaccine. We've done it for both our boys and it's £155 per vaccine. If you are under 15 you need two vaccines but over 15 you need three of them.

"It gives us peace of mind that hopefully we have done all we can to try and prevent these horrible cancers."

The human papillomavirus is commonly spread through intimate contact. Most strains are harmless but in rare cases it can cause cancer.

It has been blamed for a sharp rise in cases of throat cancer. Scotland now has the highest incidence of these cancers in the UK.

From this year S1 boys will be offered the vaccination.

Professor of dental public health at Glasgow University, David Conway, told BBC Scotland: "Oropharyngeal cancer, throat cancer, is the most rapidly rising cancer in Scotland, and it's the HPV association that seems to be driving that change."

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Dentists also think the decision not to offer a catch-up vaccination programme for older boys is a mistake.

Dr David Cross, from the British Dental Association Scotland, said: "Throat cancer is different in Scotland, there is a much higher rate of throat cancers associated with HPV infection and 75% of them are occurring in men so we think the boys need protection, and rolling out a catch-up programme will mean we can protect an additional 140,000 boys."

Dr Calder added: "As a doctor working for the NHS, you always want to try and provide good health for the whole nation.

"So it would be really good if we could get all boys vaccinated and try and eradicate some of these cancers."