Last updated 12:16, Monday, 04 May 2009
New figures show that 66 per cent of 17 and 18-year-old girls have had their first dose of the HPV jab which protects against strains of cervical cancer.
More than 1,000 of the county’s 3,133 women in that age group still need to decide whether they want to be immunised – but take-up rates among 12 to 13-year-olds, who are usually immunised in schools, are higher at 86.8 per cent.
Nationally, 84.3 per cent of 12 to 13-year-olds have had their first jab and a further 40.2 per cent of older pupils.
All girls aged 12 and 13 in Cumbria are being offered the vaccine to protect them against the sexually-transmitted papilloma virus and 17 and 18-year-olds, who missed out on the jab at school.
An NHS Cumbria spokesperson said: “It’s really encouraging to see the high take-up of this vaccine in Cumbria. The HPV vaccine protects against the two types of human papillomavirus which cause more than 70 per cent of cervical cancers.
“The vaccination should ensure that the 11 or so women who currently die each year from cervical cancer in Cumbria falls in the years to come. However, because it doesn’t protect against all HPV viruses it will be essential that girls, like their mothers, take part in the NHS cervical cancer screening programme once they are old enough.”
Requests for cervical screening soared nationally after Jade Goody died from cervical cancer in March, aged 27. Demand has left many health boards struggling to meet the government target of 80 per cent of smear test results being sent out within a month.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women under 35 years old. About 3,000 women are diagnosed with the disease in the UK each year and, of these, around 1,100 will die.
The vaccination programme started in the autumn and it is hoped will save the lives of about 400 women each year.
The Department of Health (DoH) has launched a campaign to encourage more youngsters to have the potentially life-saving jab.
A spokesman said: “The decision is legally the child’s as long as she understands the issues.
“However the DoH has advised health trusts that parental consent should be sought where ever possible and where the parents’ views differ from that of the child attempts should be made to resolve this.”
Comment from Leslie
What the heck does the last sentence in this article mean – coercion? What kind of attempts to resolve differences in opinion…especially from the government? We have fought long and hard for the right to make reproductive choices – are we going to have to do the same with vaccine choices?