UK: HPV vaccine rolled out

3 Sep 2008

All UK schoolgirls vaccinated for cervical cancer

The UK government is starting its campaign to vaccinate young girls against a virus that causes cervical cancer, with Northern Ireland and Scotland already underway.

Social networking websites have already been targeted in an advertising campaign to encourage girls to have the jab which helps protect against 2 strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the sexually-transmitted infection responsible for over 90% of cervical cancer cases. The jab will protect against the 2 strains responsible for 70% of cervical cancer cases.

Schools have started vaccinating pupils aged 12 and 13 from this week onwards, with about 300,000 girls receiving the jab in England alone.

By July 2011, more than two million girls will have been offered the vaccine, including those up to the age of 18 as part of a catch-up programme.

The UK government's campaign for England, which is launched later, includes online, press, TV and radio advertising.

A series of roadshows will also be held in shopping centres across the country.

The government's main campaign will run this month and next, with some follow-up advertising in February to remind girls not to miss their third and final injection.

Girls aged 17 and 18, who form part of the catch-up programme, will be the target of a different advertising campaign in October.

Cervical cancer accounts for around 1,000 deaths a year in the UK.

The campaign starts in the same week that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) called for the vaccine to be made available in Less Economically Developed Countries