Boys at secondary schools across the Melton borough are this week, for the first time, being given a vaccination which protects against various forms of cancer.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) jabs have traditionally only been offered to girls studying in Year 8.
But Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) staff have begun visiting schools across Melton and other parts of the county to give it to the boys as well.
There are more than 200 strains of HPV, but the vaccine protects against the four most dangerous of these, which can cause various cancers, including cervical, penile and anal types and some affecting the throat.
The vaccine is administered via a small injection at the top of the arm which only takes a few seconds.
Two doses are required to give full protection, and these are offered six months apart.
The vaccination programme targets 12 and 13 year olds in Year 8 since, as they grow, their levels of resistance will also increase.
Suzanne Leatherland, children’s immunisations lead at LPT, said: “In July 2018, it was announced that the HPV vaccine would be extended to boys.
“This will help prevent more cases of HPV-related cancers in both boys and girls.
“The vaccination programme is vital in saving lives, and we look forward to working closely with all our schools to ensure we protect as many of our young people as possible.”
Alongside the HPV vaccine, Year 8 pupils who, according to their child health record, have not received both doses of the Mumps Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccine as infants, will be offered further protection against these diseases.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes result in serious complications, and there have been some outbreaks in the UK and Europe over the last couple of years.
As there is no treatment for the disease, vaccination is the only way of preventing it.
Go to www.leicsandrutlandimms.co.uk to view an online consent form for school age immunisations.