Hundreds of girls in Dorset haven't had jab for cancer causing HPV

Hundreds of girls in Dorset haven't had jab for cancer causing HPV

Published by Maria Greenwood at 9:58am 18th December 2019.

Hundreds of girls in Dorset were not fully vaccinated against the potentially cancer-causing HPV virus last year.

Girls in England are offered free HPV jabs at school during Years 8 and 9, when they are aged between 12 and 14.
 
However, Public Health England figures show just 80.4% of girls in Dorset were given the recommended two doses of the vaccine by the end of Year 9 in 2018-19.
 
This was below the national average, and meant 461 girls were left unprotected.

Girl writing

Rachel Partridge, Assistant Director of Public Health at Public Health Dorset, said:

"The HPV vaccine is a really effective way of protecting against cancers, including cervical cancer, so we would encourage parents of girls and boys in Year 8 in Dorset to look out for information from their school nursing team about the vaccine and when they can get it.  

"It's important that children have both doses of the vaccine to be protected - the second dose is normally offered six to 12 months after the first. 

"Parents can find more information about the HPV vaccine on the NHS website." 

'What does the HPV vaccine do?'

The HPV vaccination protects against the human papilloma virus, which is responsible for more than 99% of cervical cancer cases as well as some other rarer cancers.
 
According to the NHS, the vaccine works best when girls receive it before they become sexually active.
 
HPV can be spread through any kind of skin-to-skin contact, as well as through sexual intercourse.
 

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The minimum vaccination target set by PHE for local areas is 80%, but local teams are encouraged to aim for 90% or above.

England has seen declining rates of HPV vaccination over recent years, falling from 86.7% in 2013-14 - when girls were recommended to get both doses by the end of Year 8 - to 83.9% last year.
 
This was a slight improvement on 2017-18, when coverage was at 83.8%, but means almost 50,000 young girls were left unprotected.
 
Coverage has also fallen in Dorset - last year 82% of girls were vaccinated.
 
Dr Vanessa Saliba, from Public Health England, said:

"The UK HPV immunisation programme is one of the most successful around the world, continuing to achieve high coverage with millions of doses of vaccine given to girls in the UK since its launch in 2008.
 
"We encourage parents of all eligible girls to ensure they take up the vaccine when it is offered.
 
"Girls who missed either dose of their HPV vaccine should speak to their school nurse or GP and arrange to get the vaccine as soon as possible as they remain eligible until their 25th birthday." 

HPV vaccines were also rolled out to 12 and 13-year-old boys in September, which will help prevent future cases of cervical, mouth, throat and anus cancers, she added.