Pharmac has proposed extending funding for a chickenpox vaccine to all children and making the HPV vaccine funded for males under 26 years old.

The proposals are for the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine to be funded for all children, and for the restriction on funding for the HPV vaccine for females to be removed.

That would mean boys and girls would be included in the HPV school vaccination programme in the 2017 school year, and widening access to HPV vaccination for women and men up to the age of 26.

The universal vaccination against chickenpox for all infants would come in from July 1 next year.

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In Australia, the HPV vaccine is government-funded for boys and girls. Gardasil can protect against four strains of HPV - human papilloma virus - that can cause pre-cancerous lesions in the genital tract and mouth, and genital warts. It has been offered to
New Zealand girls partly to help reduce cervical cancer.

Rates of throat-related cancers have risen sharply since the 1980s and HPV, from oral sex, is thought to be the cause.

More than 200,000 New Zealand females have received the vaccine since 2008.
Pharmac director of operations Sarah Fitt said the possible changes came after a request for proposals process.

"Access to vaccines is an important issue for New Zealanders, and we've received a lot of feedback about widening access to the varicella and HPV vaccines, including from our expert clinical advisers.

"Pharmac has worked constructively with suppliers to negotiate significant savings which provide opportunities for these important vaccines to be made available to more people."
Other changes to the currently listed vaccines including brand changes and a move to a 2-dose schedule for vaccination against rotavirus.

"We're very pleased to open consultation on proposals that would see an extra 100,000 people immunised against potentially serious illnesses."

Pharmac is seeking feedback on the proposals by June 17. Last week's Budget boosted
Pharmac's budget by $124 million over four years.

The Government said DHBs would also give an extra $11 million towards Pharmac's budget next year.