Concern over low take-up of HPV vaccine in Cornwall

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Gardasil (web) The proportion of teenage girls in Cornwall who have had the HPV vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer, is only 70% of the national average.

While 90% of teenage girls across England have received the vaccine, uptake in Cornwall and the Scilly Isles is only 64%.

The figure has dropped from 80% in 2010, largely due to girls failing to return for the two follow-up jabs after the first one. The three injections are meant to take place over six months.

The vaccine, Sanofi MSD’s Gardasil, offers 70% protection against the strains of HPV (a sexually transmitted virus) that cause cervical cancer.

Robert Music, Director of Cornwall Foundation Trust, said: “We are concerned with the large number of girls in Cornwall who are not being vaccinated, a number considerably higher than the rest of England.

“We need to make sure everything is being done to increase uptake as the vaccine could quite simply save lives.”

Cornwall Council shares the Trust’s concern from a public health point of view. Its public health consultant Dr Kerry Bailey commented that cervical cancer causes about 900 deaths in England each year.

“There’s very few cancers we can protect ourselves against. That’s why we would encourage parents to take their girls in to get the vaccine.”