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GP role vital to make HPV vaccination program work

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs will need to take part in the HPV vaccination program if it is to achieve the levels of uptake required to make the programme cost-effective, pilot studies suggest.

Pulse has learned that PCTs have already begun training practice nurses to deliver the vaccine as part of the catch-up programme.

A study in schools in Greater Manchester found uptake of the first two doses of the three-dose vaccination schedule was 70%.

But the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation sanctioned the roll-out of a program for schoolgirls aged 12 and 13 based on an assumed 80% uptake.

The researchers described their findings as ‘encouraging', but cancer experts have suggested the gap in uptake meant GP involvement in the vaccination programme was needed.

Study leader Dr Louise Brabin, a reader in women's health at the University of Manchester, said her research showed a school-based program was feasible, but more work was needed to allay parent's safety and efficacy concerns.

‘Taking this into account, a coverage of 80% may be achievable', Dr Brabin concluded in the BMJ (25 April).

But in an accompanying editorial, Dr Jo Waller, a senior research fellow with Cancer Research UK, said that although acceptable uptake was possible in schools, ‘important practical barriers exist' that would require the help of GPs to overcome.

The Department of Health said a ‘substantial national publicity campaign' supporting the launch of the vaccination campaign was expected to have ‘a positive effect on uptake'.

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