Fewer girls getting anti-cancer jab

Fewer girls in South Tyneside are getting a potentially lifesaving anti-cancer vaccine, new figures show.

Anti-cancer jab figures fall.
Anti-cancer jab figures fall.

HPV vaccine uptake has fallen significantly from pre-pandemic levels in the area, says the UK Health Security Agency.

Girls in England are offered free HPV jabs at school during years 8 and 9 – when they are aged between 12 and 14.

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The vaccination protects against the human papilloma virus, which is responsible for most cervical cancer cases and some other rarer cancers.

The data shows 73.2% of year 9 girls in South Tyneside had both HPV jabs during the 2021-22 academic year – meaning 240 of the 894 girls in the cohort were not fully vaccinated.

The jab rate was down from 76.7% the year previous and below pre-pandemic levels of 90.1%.

Nationally, about 67.3% of year 9 girls were fully vaccinated last year – a drop from three years before, when it was 83.9%.

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust chief executive, Samantha Dixon, said cases of cervical cancer have fallen 87% in vaccinated women.

She said: “This progress cannot be lost. More education about the HPV vaccine, and how it can protect against cervical cancer, could help reduce vaccine hesitancy.

"The HPV vaccine - combined with cervical screening - gives us the opportunity to prevent many cases of cervical cancer and save lives."

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA said, "In recent years we have seen vaccine coverage fall due to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

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"Many young people who missed out have already been caught up with, but more needs to be done to ensure all those eligible are vaccinated."