In time for the new school term beginning this week, the Scottish government has announced that a different vaccine will be used to protect girls against human papillomavirus. The HPV immunization program now will administer Gardasil instead of Cervarix.
Like Cervarix, Gardasil targets two HPV strains that cause more than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. However, unlike Cervarix, Gardasil also protects against two additional strains that cause 90 percent of genital warts. The shots will continue to be offered to girls in their second year of secondary school, when they are around age 13.
HPV does not cause cancer or warts in every woman who contracts it. Because HPV vaccines do not prevent every type of cervical cancer, regular screenings still are important, authorities say.
Sir Harry Burns, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said the vaccination program, which launched in 2008, “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.” He noted that while the program was set up to guard women against cervical cancer, Gardasil’s expanded protection against genital warts represents “an added benefit.”
Gardasil will be used across the UK, following a procurement exercise by the Department of Health on behalf of the four UK health departments.
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