Introducing Vaccination Against Cervical Cancer

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All 12 and 13-year-old girls in Wales are to be vaccinated against the virus that causes most types of cervical cancer, Health Minister Edwina Hart announced today.

The vaccination against the human papilloma (HPV) virus will be added to the routine immunisation programme from September 2008.

There will also be a two-year catch-up vaccination campaign starting in Autumn 2009 for all girls up to the age of 18.

The decision follows a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the expert group that advises the UK health departments.

It is hoped that the vaccination will save hundreds of lives across the UK and protect women from up to 70 per cent of the viruses that can cause cervical cancer.

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The routine cervical cancer screening (smear tests) of women aged between the ages of 20 and 64 will continue every three years though as the HPV vaccine does not protect women against all forms of the virus.

Edwina Hart said: "Tackling cancer is one of my priorities and the routine immunisation of girls from next year is a long-term investment in cervical cancer prevention.

"The Assembly Government has long recognised the importance of preventing ill health as well as treating people effectively when they become ill.

"Prevention is always better than cure and this vaccine will prevent many women from catching the human papilloma virus in the first place, potentially saving hundreds of lives a year in the UK."

The JCVI considered detailed evidence before coming to its recommendations. They were:

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