The Manchester-based pilot study is the first to look at whether the vaccine will be accepted by enough parents to ensure the success of a national UK immunisation programme, and how easy it is to deliver such a programme to adolescent girls. The vaccination prevents two types of HPV that are sexually transmitted and associated with about 70 percent of cervical cancers. From September 2008, all schoolgirls in the UK aged between 12 and 13 years old (Year 8) will be offered the vaccination.
In February 2007, two Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in Manchester agreed to take part in a study led by researchers from the University of Manchester. Each PCT was responsible for delivering the vaccine to all secondary schools in its catchment area. The HPV vaccine was offered to 2 817 girls aged between 12 and 13 years old attending 36 secondary schools. Parents were fully informed about the study and were invited to information evenings. They were asked to give their consent for vaccination or, if they refused, to give their reasons.
The researchers report the number of girls who received the first two doses of the vaccine. In order for the vaccine to be fully effective three doses are needed at 0, 1 and 6 months. In total, 1 989 (70.6 percent) received the first dose and 1 930 the second (68.5 percent). The authors found that delivery of the vaccination was challenging, partly because doses needed to be delivered at the start of the academic year when schools were busy, but also because a significant proportion of girls missed the appointment times for their first and second doses (16.3% and 23.6% respectively), and therefore had to be offered alternative times.
The researchers conclude: “These are encouraging results for the forthcoming national HPV vaccine programme but the final criterion for success will be the proportion of girls who receive all three vaccine doses.”
MEDICA.de; Source: British Medical Journal