The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, which reduces the risk of developing cervical cancers, is being routinely offered to girls aged 12-13 (Year 9) in schools across Northern Ireland. The Public Health Agency (PHA) is reinforcing the message for all parents to encourage their daughters to have this vaccine which will significantly reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer throughout their lives.
Dr Richard Smithson, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA said; “Approximately 1,000 women die from cervical cancer in the UK each year, which is why this vaccination is about saving lives. I would ask all parents to give consent for their daughters to receive the vaccine in order to reduce their risk of this preventable cancer.
“This is the fourth year that we are offering this vaccine in schools. There has been a very good uptake of the vaccine, especially compared to other countries. Last year for Year 9 girls, those completing the full 3 doses is around 85%, while this uptake is good, we can still do better.”
Dr Smithson continued: “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 information about the vaccine and when it will be commence in their daughter’s school. If your daughter missed out last year it isn’t too late, and Year 10 girls will be offered the vaccine again this year if they didn’t get it last year or didn’t complete the course. If they are now past year 10 and haven’t had the vaccine but want it now, then you should approach your GP who can prescribe it.
Robert Music, Director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust the UK’s only charity dedicated to those affected by cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer said “Cervical cancer is largely preventable and the HPV vaccine protects against 70% of cervical cancers and has a good safety profile. Take up of the vaccine in Northern Ireland has been very good which is important as it is believed that if year on year take up of the vaccine continues to be around 80%, the incidence of cervical cancer could be reduced by two-thirds in women under 30 years by 2025. Quite simply agreeing to be vaccinated could save a life.”
Information can also be found on the website www.helpprotectyourself.info
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611
Notes to the editor
- an 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.
- 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.