Posted: Mon 23rd Jan 2023

Public Health officials in Wales to step up efforts to increase HPV vaccine uptake

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Public Health officials in Wales will be stepping up their efforts to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common, often symptomless virus, which is spread through intimate, sexual contact. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The two dose vaccine protects the individual from several types of higher risk types HPV which are linked to cancer – the most common being cervical cancer. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

However it can also cause anal cancer, vaginal and vulval cancer and some mouth and neck cancers. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The jabs have been routinely offered to girls of secondary school age since 2008 and teenage boys since 2019. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Although the HPV vaccine does not eliminate a person’s chance of cancer, it does significantly reduce the risk. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In Wales the first dose of the HPV vaccine by school year 10 in 2021-22 is at 83.1 per cent and 72.7 percent for the second dose. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Dr Chris Johnson, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme for Public Health Wales, said that there is “room for improvement” to further increase uptake. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

He said: “In Wales, uptake of the crucial first dose of the HPV vaccine by school year 10 in 2021-22 is high at 83.1 per cent, and is at 72.7 percent for the second dose. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“This is because of significant efforts by our vaccination teams, after uptake in this age group was affected during the Covid pandemic. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“However, we recognise that there is room for improvement, and we will be working with partners to do more to promote the vaccination and encourage take up across Wales. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“The World Health Organisation strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer sets out that to achieve elimination of cervical cancer in girls with HPV, vaccination should be at 90 per cent by the age of 15. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“Girls and boys up to the age of 20 who have not received their HPV vaccination can catch up by contacting their GP and arranging a vaccination.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

This week marks Cervical Cancer Prevention week – a campaign which aims to raise awareness of the importance of smear tests and the HPV vaccination. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In Wales there are around 160 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year and it is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35. ‌ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Symptoms of cervical cancer include: ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

  • Vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you – such as bleeding between periods, after sex, heavier than normal periods or vaginal bleeding after the ​m‌enopause
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Changes to vaginal discharge
  • Pain in your lower stomach

These symptoms can also be caused by other, less serious conditions. However it is important to get them checked out by a doctor as soon as possible.
​​​‍​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌
Last year Cervical Screening Wales (CSW) extended the routine screening for 25 and 49 year olds from three to five years – if HPV is not found in their cervical screening test. ‌This brought it in line with 50 to 64 year olds.​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Since September 2018, CSW has routinely used a cervical screening test which looks for the 14 high-risk types of HPV that cause 99.8 per cent of cervical cancers. Where HPV is detected, it can be many years before cells start to change into something sinister. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The change was recommended by the UK National Screening Committee in 2019 due to the success of the HPV vaccine rollout and the use of “more accurate” cervical screening. ‌ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

More information about the symptoms of cervical screening and the HPV Vaccine can be found on the Public Health Wales website. ​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​More information on Cervical Cancer Prevention Week can be found on Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​ ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​


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