A range of health experts are weighing in on whether women should be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted infection (STI) Gardasil, as part of an urgent plan to reduce the spread of the deadly virus.
Speaking on the Today programme, Professor Helen Mann from the University of Birmingham said the Gardasils vaccination programme was “the most ambitious” yet and that the vaccine could save lives in the coming years.
Professor Mann also said she was worried that the vaccination programme would be extended to men, who would need to get vaccinated themselves.””
We are not sure if the vaccine is safe, but we know that the HPV-16 vaccine is very safe, we know it is very effective, we can’t say it is the most effective vaccine out there, but it is in the top three of all vaccines and is the safest.”
Professor Mann also said she was worried that the vaccination programme would be extended to men, who would need to get vaccinated themselves.
“I think that the women are very concerned about men and that they have had a lot of information about this programme and are concerned about the fact that they are being targeted,” she said.
“They feel like they are in the crossfire.”
It is also a very different programme than what we have seen in the United States.
“In the US, they have been able to get this programme off the ground and we are looking at this in a very new way.”
Professor Helen Mann, a professor at the University Of Birmingham, is one of the experts who is weighing in to make sure women get vaccinated against HPV.
She told Today that men would be vaccinated in their own homes, rather than in clinics.
“The vaccines are not being delivered at home, so it is going to be the women who have the vaccine delivered at their homes,” she added.
“We are hoping that if we have the option, women will choose to vaccinate themselves.”
But Dr Andrew Whitehead, head of the British Society for the Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation, told Today the programme was already “too late” and that women should continue to receive their shots at home.
“Our experience with other programmes has been that people don’t actually want to get the HPV shot because they are scared of getting cervical cancer,” he said.
“So I think it is too late for women to stop getting HPV vaccines.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the Garda’s vaccination programme is working, with only a handful of cases of cervical cancer occurring in the UK since the vaccine was introduced.
But Professor Mann said that a major risk factor for the disease was a lack of awareness among women about HPV.
“If you have no knowledge about HPV, if you have not had a Pap smear, or if you are worried about cervical cancer, it’s not a good way to start a career,” she told Today.
“You are putting yourself at a high risk of getting a very serious disease.”
The UK has seen more than 50 cases of HPV in the past year, with some experts saying it was still too early to tell whether the vaccine would be a major factor in reducing the spread.
Professor Mann said there was a “very real risk” that the programme would have a major effect on the rate of cervical and vaginal cancers.
“Women are not going to go back to work because they don’t have the knowledge that there are risks,” she explained.
“If we vaccinate too early, it will be a problem.”
Professor Mark Gervais, of the Royal College of Gynaecologists, said the vaccine programme was a step in the right direction.
“There is a great opportunity for the HPV vaccination programme to go forward,” he told Today, adding that he hoped to see it extend beyond women.
“People are beginning to realise that they don’s not going back to the office because they do not have the information that there is a risk of cervical or vaginal cancer,” Professor Gervas said.
The Gardasls vaccination programme, which started in February, will be the first in Europe.
The US has already announced it will expand the programme to include men in January.
In the UK, the government has also said it will vaccinate a further 6 million men.
The UK’s Department of Health said it was working with the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and the United Nations Population Fund to develop a strategy to boost uptake.
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