WA lagging behind in Human Papillomavirus vaccination rates

Stock image.
Stock image.

WA is below the national average when it comes to vaccinating girls against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause cancer.

Figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today show that in 2015-16, 79.1 per cent of WA girls aged 15 and 77.9 per cent of boys the same age were fully immunised against HPV, compared to 80.1 per cent and 74.1 per cent nationally.

The National HPV Vaccination Program has been immunising adolescent girls since 2007 and was extended to boys in 2013.

Cancer Council WA Cancer Smart manager Melissa Ledger said the HPV vaccination was free and protected kids against the HPV virus that could lead to various cancers.

“This year a new vaccine named Gardasil 9 has been introduced and is expected to provide protection from seven types of cancer-causing HPV responsible for over 90 per cent of cervical cancers, as well as a proportion of vulval and vaginal cancers in women; anal cancers, and head and neck cancers in men and women; and penile cancer in men and two types of HPV that cause genital warts,” Ms Ledger said.

“The free Gardasil 9 vaccine is delivered to Year 8 girls and boys by the Department of Health’s school immunisation program in two doses, rather than the previous three, making it even easier to participate.”

The greatest improvement in HPV immunisation rates was in girls in the northern suburbs with the participation rate rising from 70.2 per cent in 2014–15 to 77.2 per cent.

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