It comes as Australia is on track to be one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer.
Australia has moved from two doses to a single dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the Federal Government announced yesterday. A free catchup program for those who have not received the vaccine has also been expanded to those under 26, previously 19. It comes as Australia is on track to become one of the first countries to eliminate cervical cancer.
HPV is a common virus spread mainly through sexual contact. It can lead to serious health consequences. Almost all cervical cancers are linked to HPV. Cervical cancer is preventable and treatable, and testing and vaccination have both played a role in driving down rates.
The vaccine is commonly administered to children aged 12-13 at school. As well as cervical cancer, it provides protection against HPV-related genital, anal and oropharyngeal cancers and genital warts. The decision to recognise one dose as sufficient for full vaccination follows recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. The Government said “the latest scientific and clinical evidence” suggests one dose gives comparable protection to two doses.
Associate Professor Misha Coleman, a spokesperson from the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer, “warmly” welcomed the decision. “This is a life-saving vaccine which prevents cervical cancer and we now know that people only need one dose to be ‘fully immunised’ against this virus,” Coleman told TDA. However, Coleman said it was important states and territories continue to offer schools two visits a year to ensure coverage of any students who are away on the first visit.
For information about cervical cancer tests via the National Cervical Screening Program, go to www.health.gov.au/ncsp.