All girls can get the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine free from the NHS from the age of 12 up to their 18th birthday.
What is the HPV vaccine?
It helps protect against cervical cancer, which is the most common cancer in women under 35 in the UK.
The vaccination programme is delivered through schools, but if girls miss out they can get it at their GP surgery.
It also helps protect women from rarer HPV-related cancers, such as anal cancer, genital cancers and cancers of the head and neck.
In England, girls aged 12 to 13 years are routinely offered the first HPV vaccination when they’re in Year Eight.
The second dose is normally offered six to 12 months after the first (in school Year 8 or Year 9). The NHS says it is important to have both doses to be protected.
Why is it so important?
The HPV vaccine is effective at stopping girls from getting the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.
The vaccine initiative started ten years ago and in that time more than ten million doses of the HPV vaccine have been given to young women in England.
We’re now at a place where more than 80 per cent of women aged 15 to 24 have received the vaccine.
Statistics from GOV.UK states that ‘this means that this generation will be well protected from developing cervical cancer in the future, which is caused by HPV 99 per cent of the time’.
It added: “Cervical cancer most commonly affects women in their mid to late twenties, so once vaccinated girls reach these ages and beyond we can get an accurate picture of the impact this vaccine will have on this devastating cancer.”
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 in the UK and currently kills around 850 women a year.
For more information on the vaccination, visit the NHS website.
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