THOUSANDS OF GIRLS MISSING OUT ON CANCER VACCINE
EXPERTS IN PLEA OVER JAB
THOUSANDS of teenage girls in Greater Manchester remain unprotected from cervical cancer.
New figures published by Public Health England show uptake of a vaccine that gives girls protection from the human papilloma virus (HPV).
The virus is known to cause cervical cancer, and is the leading cause of death in women aged under 35 in the UK. Two doses are needed to give full protection, and girls are offered the first vaccination when they’re in Year 8.
Most students receive their second dose in Year 9.
The figures show 34,199 girls in Greater Manchester aged between 12 and 14 should have had at least one dose of the vaccine in 2018/19.
But 4,236 of those girls hadn’t – leaving them unprotected against the virus.
That works out as a rate of more than one in every 10 girls, or 12.4 per cent.
The second dose is usually offered six to 12 months after the first and all Year 9 girls should have had both by the end of that academic year.
There were 16,786 Year 9 girls across Greater Manchester in 2018/19.
Nearly a fifth of those – or 2,911 – had not received both doses of the vaccine by the end of the school year.
In September, the HPV vaccine was also rolled out to boys across Year 8.
This is because the virus can also cause head and neck cancers as well as penile and anal cancer.
Men and women can contract HPV by having unprotected sex with an infected partner – so vaccinating boys can also help prevent the virus from spreading.
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “It is positive that HPV vaccine uptake remains high. It is an extremely effective vaccine that will prevent many from going through a cervical cancer diagnosis, which will ultimately save lives.
“Yet we are faced with wide variation in uptake across England meaning many young women will not benefit.
“There is much targeted work to do to close the gap, and we must look at reaching communities where awareness and uptake is particularly low.
“It’s important that young people are aware that if they didn’t take up their vaccine invite and are still under 25 they can still get vaccinated at their GP.”
Across England there were 622,320 girls in Year 8 and 9 eligible for the vaccine – but 71,937 were yet to receive their first dose.