Cervical cancer vaccine offered to Year 9 girls

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is asking all parents to consent to their daughters receiving the HPV vaccine which protects against two strains of the virus, types 16 and 18 that cause around 70% of cervical cancer cases.

Dr Richard Smithson, Health Protection Consultant, PHA said: “Approximately 1,000 women die from cervical cancer in the UK each year, which is why this vaccination is about saving lives. To reduce their risk of this preventable cancer, I would ask all parents to give consent for their daughters to receive the vaccine.”

Dr Smithson continued: “This is the third year that we are offering this vaccine in schools. In the first two years there has been a very good response with around 90% of parents choosing to get their daughters vaccinated and we hope the response will be at least as good again this year.

“The advantage of the vaccine is that it actually stops the cancer from developing in the first place. By achieving a good uptake we should be able to reduce the number of cases of cervical cancer by up to 70%. Worldwide the vaccine has now been given to millions of girls and has been shown to have an excellent safety record. We would urge parents to take advantage of this offer to ensure their daughters are protected in the safest and most efficient way against this serious disease.”

Parents will have already received or will shortly be receiving information about the vaccine and when it will be commence in their daughter’s school.

If you didn’t consent when first asked it isn’t too late, just contact the school health team and tell them you would like your daughter to be vaccinated.

Information can also be found on the website www.helpprotectyourself.com

Notes to the editor

1. The vaccine is offered through a school-based programme and Health and social care trusts across Northern Ireland will work with their local education authorities and schools to implement it.

2. Around 1,000 women die from cervical cancer in the UK each year. This cancer is caused by the human papollomavirus of HPV, which is spread from one person to another during sexual activity (not necessarily sexual intercourse). Both men and women can become infected with this virus. There are over 100 types of HPV but only 13 of these are known to cause cervical cancer and just two types – types 16 and 18 cause over 70% of the cases.

3. The HPV vaccine will protect against types 16 and 18 which are the most common types causing cervical cancer. The vaccine won’t protect against the remaining cancer types, so it will be vital that in future those who have been vaccinated continue to get regular smear tests.

Further information

Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.