7:18pm Wednesday 29th April 2009
Six out of ten 17 to 18-year-old girls in the district have so far failed to be vaccinated against the cancer which killed Big Brother star Jade Goody.
Figures released by the Department of Health reveal as of the end of February, 27.4 per cent of the 3,372 girls in that age group received their first dose of the HPV jab which prevents against strains of cervical cancer.
Bradford health chiefs say their records show as of the end of last month the take-up had risen to 41 per cent.
Take-up rates among 12 and 13-year-olds, which are usually given in schools, are significantly higher across Bradford at 89.9 per cent.
Nationally 84.3 per cent of girls in this age group have had their first jab and a further 40.2 per cent of older pupils.
The GP-led programme for the older pupils did not start until January, so it is hoped more girls would request the vaccine.
Dr Shirley Brierley, public health consultant at NHS Bradford and Airedale, said: “I would encourage all girls who are invited to have the jab at their GP to take this opportunity to protect themselves.”
All girls in the two age groups are being offered the vaccine.
Sisters Rebecca and Rachael Riley, of Low Moor, Bradford, have recently had their second of the three injection.
Rachael said: “I think a lot of people our age tend to think its older people that get cancer but seeing and hearing about Jade Goody’s illness made us realise it was something that happened to a lot of young women too.
“When we got our letters from the practice asking us to have our vaccinations, both of us decided it was a really important way of protecting ourselves in the future.”
Anne Connolly, a GP at the Ridge Medical Practice, said: “We’re really pleased to see the high numbers of young women who are choosing to take up the vaccine.
“It’s incredibly important that young people get vaccinated as it will save many lives in the future.
“It’s also essential to realise that while HPV vaccinations offer the best protection against cervical cancer, young people should also practice safe sex with the use of condoms alongside their usual contraceptives in order to prevent sexually-transmitted infections.
“As sad as Jade Goody’s recent death has been, if it encourages more young women to have the HPV jab and those 25 and over to attend their cervical screening, then her death has achieved something really positive.”
Although the Government does not have a target uptake rate for the vaccination, the DoH has started a campaign to encourage more youngsters to have the potentially life-saving jab.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women under 35 years old. About 3,000 women are diagnosed with it in the UK each year and, of these, about 1,100 will die.
It is estimated the vaccination programme will save the lives of about 400 women each year.
Comment from Leslie
Looks like someone is doing some damage control….Maybe the word is beginning to get out to the public about the dangers of Gardasil. Poor Jade Goody – posthumously made infamous by cervical cancer. Using a ” deceased celeb” to promote the vaccine is pretty tardy…is that an English slang? The truth be told is that Jade did not go back for her follow up cervical cancer screenings – Papa tests – that is why she passed – not because she did not have the vaccine. Gardasil only protects those who do not have cervical cancer – not those who do. Bad marketing…Bad media!