Doubt over the value of HPV jab for teenagers

Vaccinating teens against HPV will not be cost-effective and could divert resources away from the current cervical screening programme, a public health expert has warned.

The first vaccine against HPV, patented as Gardasil, has received its European licence but the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s HPV subgroup has still to decide whether vaccinating all girls, and perhaps boys, from the age of 11 is to be recommended. 

Dr Angela Raffle, public health lead for cervical screening at Bristol PCT, is concerned that giving the vaccine to UK teenagers will more than double the cost of the current cervical cancer control programme ‘for little or no gain’.

But national roll-out of a HPV vaccine was defended by Dr Sarah Jarvis, RCGP women’s health spokeswoman.

‘I would anticipate this is one of the most cost-effective vaccinations in UK history, given the savings in terms of colposcopy and genital wart treatment,’ she said.

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