Change of cervical cancer vaccine

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A different vaccine will be used to offer teenage girls protection against the virus which can cause cervical cancer.

From the new school term, protection against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) will be provided through Gardasil rather than Cervarix.

Gardasil protects against four strains of HPV, whereas Cervarix protects against two.

Girls will now be protected against the two strains that cause over 70 per cent of cases of cervical cancers in the UK, and a further two strains that cause around 90 per cent of cases of genital warts.

It will be used across the UK following a procurement exercise by the Department of Health on behalf of the four UK Health Departments.

Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns said:

“This vaccination programme, launched in 2008, is the very first to protect against a type of cancer and plays a critical part in helping to protect thousands of Scottish women from a disease that can attack them in the prime of their lives.

“The HPV vaccination programme was established first and foremost to protect against cervical cancer, however, the fact that the new vaccine also provides protection against genital warts is an added benefit.

“In Scotland we have seen very high levels of uptake of the vaccine over the first four years of the programme, and I am confident that that will continue to be the case in the future.”

Gardasil has been used extensively in other countries, such as the United States, and other countries in Europe, since it was first licensed in 2006.

Girls who have already been vaccinated with Cervarix will receive a third and final dose of Cervarix where possible.  Where this is not possible, girls will be offered a dose of Gardasil.

The important thing is that girls receive three doses to ensure they are protected against HPV.