The first evidence has emerged that nationwide vaccination programmes for young women against HPV, the virus that triggers cervical cancer, are likely to cut the numbers who get the disease.
A study in Australia, one of the first countries to introduce the vaccination, has shown a drop in high-grade cervical abnormalities – changes to the cells in the neck of the womb that can be the precursor to cancer.
Australia introduced nationwide HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination for women aged 12 to 26 from 2007.
While it will take many years to find out whether vaccination programmes definitely reduce the numbers of cervical cancers in the population, Australian scientists were able to analyse the results from their screening programme to find out whether there has been any drop in the number of young women with abnormal cell changes that are the precursor of cancer…
That finding, say the authors, “reinforces the appropriateness of the targeting of prophylactic HPV vaccines to pre-adolescent girls”…
In spite of worries that parents would refuse to have their daughters vaccinated against what is essentially a sexually-transmitted virus, the take-up has been good, according to figures from the Department of Health.
Well, that’s the case in the UK and, obviously, in Australia.
Meanwhile – here in the land of religious nutballs, spooky vaccination deniers and opportunist pundits and politicians, the uptake is more like negligible. While about 25% of girls targeted as the best vector for the vaccination received the first shot – the number receiving the full course of three shots is more like 11%.