The DoH has agreed to intro-duce HPV vaccination into the childhood immunisation programme for all girls aged between 12 and 13 years from September this year. A catch-up programme will also be offered to girls up to the age of 18.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) anticipates that the introduction of HPV vaccines for schoolgirls could cut rates of cervical cancer by up to 70 per cent and cases of genital warts by 95 per cent.
However, speaking last week in the House of Commons, public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: 'The vaccine only offers protection against 70 per cent of cancer causing HPV types.'
Screening will still need to be offered to women up to the age of 64 who will not have been vacci-nated, she said.
At the moment, all women aged between 25 and 64 in England are eligible for a free cervical screening test every three to five years.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, RCGP spokeswoman on women's health, warned that GPs would have to work even harder to encourage women to come in for their smear tests following the introduction of HPV vaccination (GP, 29 June 2007).
'The vaccine only offers protection against HPV strains 16 and 18,' she said.
Hansard, live links at www.healthcarerepublic.com