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DH extends HPV vaccine programme

The UK Department of Health has announced an extension of its national human papillomavirus vaccination programme to include a further 300,000 girls aged between 17 and 18
The UK Department of Health (DH) has announced an extension of its national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to include a further 300,000 girls aged between 17 and 18.

The original programme of routine vaccinations for schoolgirls aged between 12 and 13 years old is scheduled to start in September 2008 and is being launched to protect girls against HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. A two-year catch-up programme has already been planned to vaccinate girls between 15 and 18 years old, but the latest DH announcement means adolescent females who would not have otherwise been included will be inoculated during the next school year.

The DH said that an additional £10m will be made available for PCTs during the 2008/09 fiscal year to help implement the extended programme in addition to more support and guidance.

"Our policy to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer is one of the biggest public health campaigns in recent history. It will mean that up to 400 girls' lives will be saved each year," said public health minister, Dawn Primarolo.

Pharmaceutical manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been chosen to supply the UK with its HPV vaccine, Cervarix, which has been developed to immunise against strains 16 and 18 of the virus that cause 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases. The DH says that the extension was made possible by considerable savings achieved through the negotiation of the vaccine procurement process with GSK.

22nd July 2008

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