Search icon


02nd Feb 2020

The HPV vaccine proves successful as UK HPV infection rates fall below 2 percent in 16-18-year-olds

Trine Jensen-Burke

HPV vaccine

It saves lives.

It really is that simple, and so if you have a child who is approaching the age where they will be offered the HPV vaccine, know this: The latest figures from the UK shows that the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination, which is given to 12-13-year-old girls (and since September 2019 also 12-13-year-old boys) is having a hugely positive effect.

The research, from Public Health England, shows that HPV16 and 18 infection rates, which are the strains of the virus responsible for among other things Cervical Cancer, have fallen below 2 percent in 16 to 18-year-old women – considered by medical preofessionals to be very low levels.

HPV causes 99 percent of cervical cancers and types 16 and 18 are responsible for around four in five cases.

‘This is now the fifth year of finding less than 2 percent of young sexually active women infected with HPV16 or 18, explains Marta Checchi, a Senior Scientist at Public Health England, to Netmums. “Clearly demonstrating the huge impact of the vaccination programme in its first 10 years.”

Since the vaccine was introduced into the school vaccination program in the UK in 2008, eleven million doses have been given to young women in England – with a whopping 83.9 percent coverage in year 9 girls.

“Eligible people should go and get this vaccine, which has been incredibly successful in driving down infections that cause cancer, and which is a potential life saver for millions of young women and men, protecting them from a range of cancers,” says Professor Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer.

” […] we hope that cervical cancer can be eliminated altogether, building on recent progress which has seen record-high cancer survival.”

This matters when we realise that on our shores, cervical cancer remains the most common cancer in women under 35, and is every year responsible for many deaths. And despite the surge in uptake of vaccinations, there has been a worrying rise in cases of cervical cancer, according to stats released by Cancer Research UK earlier this week.

This is thought to be due to caused in part by the low number of women taking up the invitation to attend a cervical screening.

A worrying trend, says Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive:

‘These figures highlight a worrying trend that shows progress is stalling and stagnating. Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through screening.”

Tell us – is your child getting the HPV vaccine soon? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @herfamilydotie