Scottish boys will start receiving the HPV vaccine from the start of the school year, the government has announced.
HPV causes 5% of all cancers and is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers.
Scotland has seen a 37% increase in oral cancer deaths over the last decade, amongst the highest in Europe.
‘It’s fantastic news, but failure to extend coverage to older boys will leave 140,000 at risk from this cancer-causing virus,’ David Cross, vice-chair of the BDA’s Scottish Council, said.
‘A catch-up programme isn’t an optional extra.
‘Oral cancer now claims three times as many lives in Scotland as car accidents.
‘Ministers need to go the extra mile on prevention, and take the same approach offered when girls received the vaccine.’
Last year the government decided to extend HPV vaccinations to all teenage boys and girls.
Since 2008, the vaccination was only given to teenage girls because HPV can cause cervical cancer.
However the government gave the go-ahead for vaccines to be extended to boys on the NHS.
‘Protecting boys from HPV would be a welcome sign that ministers are finally willing to walk the walk on prevention,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said at the time.
‘Over 30 people in Britain are diagnosed with oral cancer every day, and dentists are often the first to spot the tell-tale signs.
‘We now have an historic opportunity to protect all our children from the life changing and often fatal diseases HPV can cause.
‘Dither and delay on gender neutral vaccination has cost lives.’