Routine vaccination against HPV agreed in principle

The Department of Health (DOH) has agreed, in principle, to accept advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) that human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines should be introduced routinely for girls aged around 12—13 years, subject to independent peer review of the cost-benefit analysis.

Details of the programme are expected to be finalised soon, following further advice from the JCVI and discussions with the NHS. It has been estimated that routine vaccination could start as early as autumn 2008. The DOH is planning to arrange workshops for PCT Immunisation Co-ordinators after the summer break to help facilitate planning.

HPV causes 99 per cent of invasive cervical cancer, and it is estimated that HPV vaccines could reduce the number of cases by 70 per cent. Implementing the programme will be complex, as three doses of the vaccine are required to provide protection.

Currently, two vaccines have been developed to treat HPV, however only Gardasil is currently licensed for use – Cervarix is expected to become available later this year.

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