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Government to fast-track HPV vaccine programme

By Gareth Iacobucci

Catch up HPV vaccinations for girls aged 13-17 will begin next year, the Government has announced.

The announcement came as new figures show that more than 70 per cent of 12-13 year old girls have had their first HPV vaccination since the introduction of the national schools-based immunisation programme for all 12- and 13-year-old girls in September.

The Department of Health said it expected this figure to rise as more results came in, and pledged to commit £17 million of funding next year so trusts can bring forward their catch-up programmes to cover 13-17 year old girls.

The vaccine was originally to be offered to Girls aged 16-18 in the 2009/10 school year, and girls aged 15-17 in 2010/11.

Early figures show that 148 of the 152 Trusts have already started vaccinating young girls; 24 Trusts have reported uptake of 90 percent or more; and 124 Trusts are already giving the second dose of HPV.

Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: ‘This vaccination programme is about saving lives. It's great news that more than 70 per cent of 12-13 year old girls have already had their first vaccine doses. I want to thank the local health teams, schools, girls and parents for making this programme such a success.

‘Next year we'll be investing more money so that Trusts can bring forward their catch-up programmes to cover 13-17 year old girls. This means that girls can be offered protection against cervical cancer earlier.'

Pulse recently reported that GPs are facing increasing numbers of requests from parents and girls not covered by the national programme.

The Department said it will bring forward up to £17 million for Trusts in 2009 to implement the accelerated programme and ensure the roll out is a success.

Cervarix -the HPV vaccine chosen for the campaign

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