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Information key to HPV roll-out

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Encouraging girls to attend for both doses of the new human papilliomavirus vaccine will prove challenging for school nurses, suggest the authors of a UK pilot study.

Giving parents enough information on the vaccine could be key to the success of the national roll-out of the HPV vaccine later this year, their research found.

A group of 2,817 girls aged 12–13 in 36 schools in two PCTs took part in the Manchester University study. Vaccine uptake was 70.6% for the first dose and 68.5% for the second dose, according to latest findings published in the BMJ.

Two-thirds of those parents who refused to give consent to have their daughters immunised said they did not have enough information about the HPV vaccine, its efficacy and its long-term safety.

Only 10% gave the age at which the vaccine is recommended as a reason for refusal and just 3% said they felt giving the vaccine might encourage sexual activity.

However, where parental consent was refused, the option of allowing girls mature enough to decide consent for themselves could be considered by PCTs, suggested Cancer Research
UK researchers Jo Waller and Jane Wardle in an accompanying editorial.

Keeping to the vaccine schedule was also difficult, noted the authors, with 16% of girls missing their vaccination day for dose one and 24% for dose two.

But a huge concern is that there will an insufficient number of school nurses to implement the programme, according to Dave Munday, professional office for Unite/CPHVA.

Although the government said in 2004 that every secondary school should have one whole-time equivalent school nurse, coverage remains patchy, he warned.

‘At the current rate of training for school nurses it will be 2024 to achieve that target, as PCTs are not investing in school nursing places,’ Mr Munday said.

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