Schoolgirl HPV jabs 'premature'

Introducing a HPV vaccination programme for secondary school girls would be 'premature', Canadian researchers have warned.

Schoolgirl HPV jabs 'premature'
Schoolgirl HPV jabs 'premature'

They argue that questions surrounding the efficacy of the HPV vaccine need to be answered before an immunisation programme can start.

Instead, they suggest that more should be done to educate the public about the realities of cervical cancer and to promote good nutrition, smoking cessation and healthy sexual practice.

The DoH has accepted in principle the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's HPV subgroup that the vaccine be introduced routinely for schoolgirls in the UK in September 2008, subject to independent peer review of the cost-benefit analysis.

But the researchers say that a reduction in cases of cervical cancer would require a vaccine directed against more than the two high-risk strains of HPV (16 and 18) that Gardasil offers protection against.

Gardasil is the only HPV vaccine available on the market and offers protection against two thirds of cervical cancer cases.

Previous research from the US has raised doubts over the use of Gardasil suggesting that it cannot be used to treat those who already have the infection because it fails to eliminate it.

Writing in the Canadian Medi­cal Association Journal, Dr Abby Lippman and colleagues, from McGill University in Montreal, said: ‘Information about the efficacy of Gardasil remains uncertain. To date, only a handful of randomised controlled trials of sufficient qualify to quantify for systemic review have been reported.'

Relatively few girls, 1,200 aged 9-15, were enrolled in the clinical trials of Gardasil, they said.

'Clearly, this is a thin information base on which to construct a policy of mass vaccination for all girls aged 9-13.'

CMAJ 2007; 177: 484-7

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