Suffolk: HPV vaccine uptake at county schools praised

The Stay Well This Winter campaign was launched yesterday

The Stay Well This Winter campaign was launched yesterday - Credit: EDP, Archant

A HEALTH chief has praised headteachers in Suffolk for backing the NHS cervical cancer vaccination programme.

Figures released to the EADT show that 92.6% of Year Eight girls in the county’s schools were vaccinated against strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) last year, which is well above the national average.

According to Ipswich-based NHS Suffolk public health medicine consultant, Brian Keeble, the uptake of the vaccine in the county is one of the highest in the eastern region.

He said: “The national target which was set about six years ago was 90% and we have exceeded that virtually every year. Cervical cancer is caused by certain strains of HPV in around 99% of cases and because of this, it is preventable with the vaccine, which is the only major vaccine delivered into schools.

“We owe a big thank-you to the headteachers in all of the schools that are part of the programme, who allow our school nurses to go in and deliver the vaccine three times a year.”

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According to Suffolk County Council figures, all Year-8 girls in the county get offered the HPV vaccine and no Suffolk schools have refused to allow clinicians to administer the potentially life-saving injections.

But Dr Keeble said the vaccine would not replace cervical screening and he urged women not to be complacent, adding: “A 93% uptake is good but it still means that 7% of kids don’t have the vaccine for some reason.

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“The unfortunate thing is that you can get cervical cancer without being promiscuous and sometimes parents don’t recognise this.

“In 10 years, we will see that the vaccine has made a significant difference to the number of people diagnosed with the disease.”

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