Boys eligible to receive free Gardasil injections this year

AUSTRALIAN schoolboys have started receiving a vaccine that will protect them against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus.

In a world-first more than 280,000 boys will be eligible to receive free Gardasil injections this year.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the vaccine, which had been given to more than one million Australian girls aged 12-16 since 2007, would help protect boys from cancer and genital warts.

More than 405,000 boys and girls will start to have their first vaccination this month, with follow-up doses from April and August.

In Queensland, the vaccinations will be available to 64,000 boys across Years 8 and 10 and 30,000 girls in Year 8, while in New South Wales 92,000 boys in Years 7 and 9 and 46,000 Year 7 girls will get the shot.

Ms Plibersek said Gardasil was estimated to prevent a quarter of new HPV infections and was helping to reduce rates of cervical cancer among women.

"The HPV virus ... infects four out of five sexually active people at some point in their lives and is linked to cancer and other disease," Ms Plibersek said.

"Because of our work in this area, Australia's HPV vaccine coverage rates are among the best in the world, resulting in a significant drop in HPV-related infections."

Ms Plibersek said she was confident expanding vaccination program to include boys would reduce HPV-related infections further.

The vaccinations will be delivered by qualified immunisation providers in all states and territories, but only with parental or guardian consent. States and territory governments are working together to implement the program.