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New vaccine in the fight to protect girls against cervical cancer.

Date: 10/09/2008           Category: Medway PCT

A pioneering vaccine is on offer to young women in Medway that will protect them against cervical cancer for the first time this autumn. The vaccine will be given first to girls in Year 8 and Year 13 (12 and 13 year olds and 17 and 18 year olds) and then to girls between these ages in a catch-up programme during the next two years. Most young women are expected to have their vaccines at school but for those not at school, or who have missed a dose, a vaccination at their GP’s surgery can be arranged. Director of Public Health for Medway Primary Care Trust Dr Alison Barnett said the vaccine is major step forward in protecting young women against the disease. She said: “For the first time we are able to routinely vaccinate against cancer. I would urge all young women to make use of this major breakthrough. “It will prevent a higher number of women developing the disease with all the associated anxiety and suffering. It is also important that all women continue to respond to invitations for cervical screening tests as the vaccine does not prevent all cervical cancers” In uninfected girls, the Cervarix vaccine is 99 per cent effective against the two types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that cause almost 75 per cent of cases of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine does not protect against all forms of the virus and does not replace cervical screening. NHS Medway is in the process of recruiting a new immunisation team to deliver the HPV vaccination across schools. For complete immunity, girls need three doses of the vaccine during a period of six months to a year. Further information will be sent out with consent forms this autumn and the school nurse should be able to answer any questions with regards to the vaccine. For more information, visit www.immunisation.nhs.uk/vaccines/HPV