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Young Women First for Free Cervical Cancer Vaccine

Young Women First for Free Cervical Cancer Vaccine

The HPV immunisation programme is available free from 1st September to all young women born in 1990 and 1991. Family doctors, practice nurses, Maori or Pacific health providers, youth health services, and other health clinics and settings will be encouraging young women who are not in school, to get their vaccinations.

Dr Nikki Turner from the Immunisation Advisory Centre says “This vaccination programme is expected to ultimately save around 30 lives each year and have a significant impact on reducing cervical cancer in the future. It’s great to see 17 & 18 year old women can line up for protection now “

Four Facts about HPV Vaccine

The vaccine can prevent a very common infection

HPV infection is extremely common for all sexually active women and men. Three years after becoming sexually active, around two thirds of women have been exposed to HPV virus, regardless of their number of sexual partners. Sometimes HPV infection does not clear, becoming persistent. If undetected and untreated persistent HPV infection can lead to cervical cancer and other cancers affecting the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, or oropharynx. The free vaccine protects against the 2 types of HPV that cause around 70% of cervical cancer.

HPV vaccine has an excellent safety profile

The vaccine has been tested in large clinical trials involving more than 20,000 girls and young women. ‘It does give most people a sore arm’ says Dr. Nikki Turner, ‘but apart from very rare allergic reactions the vaccine does not have any serious side effects.’

The vaccine is nearly 100% effective in young women

Study results show 100% of women who were not infected prior to immunisation still had no infection 5 years later. “It is not expected that a booster shot will be needed, but study is on-going.” Said Dr. Turner “For the best results girls should be vaccinated before they are likely to be exposed to HPV, this means before they become sexually active.”

It is still recommended that women who are sexually active and eligible for the programme, still get the vaccination because they may not have been exposed to the HPV types that the vaccine protects against.

The incidence of HPV and cervical cancer should be greatly reduced but screening is still vital.

The vaccine doesn’t protect against all HPV types that cause cervical cancer, so once sexually active you still need to have a smear test every three years between the ages of 20 and 70.

To get the vaccine make an appointment with your doctor, practice nurse, or health service. The vaccine is given as an injection in the upper arm 3 times over a six-month period.

The programme will continue to be rolled-out next year, in schools and primary care settings, for younger girls and women from the age of 12 (or School-year 8)

More information about the HPV Immunisation is available at www.immune.org.nz. Or phone 0800 466 863


ENDS

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