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Fewer Cornish Schoolgirls Having Anti-Cancer Jab
7:01am 9th August 2012
Pirate FM has learnt the number of Cornish girls getting a potentially life saving vaccine has plummeted.
Only half of twelve and thirteen year olds in the Duchy had the HPV jab last year.
It protects against the virus that can cause cervical cancer.
Falmouth mum Claire Coombes won her battle against the disease and did not hesitate to give her daughter the jab. She said: "The consultant said if they had not caught it then I might not be here now. It's vital because it's silent. Some people don't find out until it's too late.
"I think it's extremely important. You protect your children on so many levels and you try to help your children. This is something that can help to prevent illness. It's crucial."
Parental agreement is needed before GPs are allowed to offer girls the HPV vaccine. Health bosses say the vaccine is given at an early age to ensure girls are protected from the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer before they are exposed to it through sexual intercourse.
The three injections should ideally be given over a period of six months.
Felicity Owen, Director of Public Health for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, said: "These poor take-up figures are really worrying and I would really like to impress upon parents how important this vaccine is.
"This vaccine can ensure that these girls will be fully protected against one of the main causes of cervical cancer from the day they become sexually active, whenever that may be.
"Young women are at risk of being exposed to HPV from the day they become sexually active and routine screening for cervical cancer, which can detect cell changes on the cervix, isn't available to them until they are aged 25.
"Parental consent is only needed once so they won't have to be accompanied at all three appointments. All three are needed to provide protection and the summer holidays gives plenty of time for them to start the programme without any disruption to school work. A small amount of inconvenience now can provide great peace of mind for your family later on.
"The HPV programme is expected to prevent hundreds of unnecessary deaths from cervical cancer. This is a cancer that tragically can affect women of all ages and can be prevented."
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