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HPV vaccine recommended in UK

The UKís Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that girls aged 12 should be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus which can lead to cervical cancer

The UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that girls aged 12 should be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) that can lead to cervical cancer.

It is not clear when these vaccinations will begin, although it is expected to be in September 2008.

The government has said that it accepts the advice in principle, but will have to determine if such a large programme would be financially viable.

The vaccine will cost between GBP 250 and GBP 300 (USD 498 and USD 598) for a course of three doses and the final decision will be  taken by the Department of Health. The vaccine has shown to be effective when administered to girls before they are sexually active. According to The Times, the committee believes if all 12-year-olds were immunised, at a cost of more than GBP 100m (USD 199.3m) a year, death rates from cervical cancer could be cut dramatically. The virus accounts for 70 per cent of cases of the disease.

Earlier this week the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (SFOPH) recommended that Sanofi Pasteur MSD's vaccine Gardasil be given to girls aged 11 to 14 years.

It has also recommended that a catch-up vaccination programme for girls between 15 and 19 years old is implemented in the next five years. The SFOPH has ruled that the vaccination of women aged 20 years and older should be decided on an individual basis.

Switzerland is the eighth country in Western Europe to recommend the HPV vaccine, following Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Norway, Luxemburg and Belgium.

Gardasil is the only licensed HPV vaccine in Europe for the prevention of cervical cancer and its precursors and of other genital diseases caused by the four human papillomavirus types, including pre-cancerous vulvar lesions and genital warts.

20th June 2007

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