*Step right up for your unnecessary injection! Ask no questions!*
In a latest move taken by the UK government, all females aged 19 to 24 years could be offered a vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV) — the major cause of the 2 types of cervical cancerdefine (squamous cell cancer and adenocarcinomadefine).
All girls in England in year 8 at school (age group of 12 to 13 years) will be routinely offered the HPV vaccine from September 2008, the government announced. Though, some parents feel that it will ‘sexualise’ their child at younger age. The vaccine the Government has chosen to use is GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix over Merck’s Gardasil. The young girls will have three shots over 6 months.
Approximately 300,000 people die each year due to the disease, mostly in developing countries.
As many as another 30, 0000 girls in the age group of 17 and 18 years will also be offered the jab for the first time next month. The Health minister, Dawn Primarolo announced that a catch up programme for 14 to 18 year olds starts in Autumn 2009.
The government official’s claim that this move will help in saving up to 400 lives every year as HPV is nearly always sexually transmitted.
As compared to young girls, older females gets limited protection from the cancerdefine jab as they are likely to be sexually active and therefore may have already been exposed to the virus.
An adviser to the HPV sub-group of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), Professor Margaret Stanley says that the new move was “remarkable volte-face”.
Professor Stanley said, “Vaccinating older girls and women who have active sexual lives will have an effect but it will be much less than immunising the virgins.”
Adding further she said, “There is the real anxiety that these older girls and women may think that they had had a magic bullet, are protected, don’t go for their smears and the cancers aren’t picked up at an early stage.”
Every year, approximately, 2,700 females are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the Britain only. In totality, two out of every 100 cancers diagnosed in females are cervical cancers. But it is the second most common cancer in women under 35 years old.
HPV infections are very common. Many cases of cervical cancer are caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus making it the second most common type of cancer in women. According to the World Health Organization, each year 250,000 women die from cervical cancer.
It is thought that £500 will be charged for a course of three jabs. Some of the side effects of the vaccine are headache, fever, rash, dizziness, stomach pain, diarrhoea, redness and soreness around the site of the injection and aching muscles.