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HPV vaccine likely for girls

Government advisers are on the verge of recommending that a routine HPV immunisation programme for 12-year-old girls be introduced next year, media reports suggest.

The programme looks set to commence in September 2008 – the beginning of the school year – and reports in The Times and The Sun indicate all girls in the first year of secondary school will be given the vaccine.

A Department of Health spokesperson told Pulse: 'The HPV subgroup considers the evidence on the protective effect of the vaccine against cervical cancer and the safety of the vaccine is encouraging. The subgroup's advice will be reported to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on 20 June for further discussion.'

Dr Syed Ahmed, public health consultant at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and a HPV subcommittee member, told Pulse his research suggested GPs would still need to participate in the campaign to ensure its success.

'Some parents would still like to go with their child and would prefer to go to their GP for the jab. I think a mixed model would be best,' he said.A catch-up campaign to vaccinate all girls aged 12 to 16 is also said to be planned. The final decision about a campaign, including details about who will be given the vaccine – which costs more than £300 for a series of three doses – rests with the department.

'No decisions will be taken on introducing these vaccines into the programme until the main JCVI presents its advice to ministers for their consideration,' the department said.

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