Encouraging more boys to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) may protect more people for the same cost, a recent study reports. Findings from the study are published in Epidemics.

Researchers have been reevaluating the girls-only approach in urging HPV vaccination after recent empirical studies have shown that marginal vaccination costs increase with coverage. It has been an ongoing debate with increasing rates of HPV-related cancers in men and vaccine coverage in girls staying below the critical level of coverage.

A research team from Duke University devised a model of HPV transmission among 14–18 year olds who were sexually active. They aimed to evaluate the impact of coverage-dependent marginal costs of vaccine distribution on optimal immunization strategies against HPV. One set of scenarios reflected the costs of vaccinating more people based on the price per vaccine dose, and another set accounted for costs of patient education that could be required to reach parents who are less willing to have their children vaccinated.

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Study results suggest that increasing marginal costs may favor vaccination strategies in immunizing both sexes if the costs associated with male vaccinations are relatively similar to those associated with vaccinating females. Shifting some of the funds to urge vaccination in boys may be more effective since the number of parents willing to vaccinate have not been exhausted. The study calls for additional research on the nature of coverage-dependent vaccination costs.

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