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GPs warned to expect HPV rush

GPs have been warned to brace themselves for a rush of patients wanting HPV vaccination for their children, following the announcement of a national programme.

The formal role of GPs in the main programme and planned catch-up campaigns remains unclear, but practices are set to be heavily involved in educating patients about the vaccine.

Health secretary Alan John-son said all girls aged 12 will get the HPV vaccine from the beginning of the 2008 school year. There will also be a two-year catch up campaign starting in the school years 2009/10 and 2010/11.

The programme is expected to cost up to £100m annually and save 400 lives a year.

Professor David Salisbury, the department's director of immunisation, said: ‘We are fully aware the public will want it. We are in negotiations with the manufacturers and the GPC to resolve availability and the advice GPs should give.'

The cervical screening programme will continue after the HPV vaccine has been introduced, as clinical trial evidence suggests neither of the vaccines licensed protects against all HPV types that cause cervical cancer.

Dr Trevor Stammers, a GP with an interest in sexual medicine in Wimbledon, south London, said the announcement had been ‘incredibly late and slow'. He added: ‘Delivering it in schools is going to be difficult. The assumption schools can achieve the coverage necessary is quite naive.'

HPV

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