More than nine in 10 Blackpool schoolgirls eligible for a vaccine against cervical cancer were given the first of two doses last year, Public Health England figures have revealed.
The human papilloma virus (HPV) – sometimes called the wart or genital wart virus – is passed on through sexual contact and can cause cervical and vaginal cancer.
Around 93 per cent of female Year 8 pupils in Blackpool, aged 12 and 13, were given ‘priming dose’ jabs to protect against the virus between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015.
Some 88.6 per cent of those attending schools under county council control – including in Wyre and Fylde – were also given injections.
The national average was 89.4 per cent, down 1.7 per cent from the year before.
The girls should be given the second and final dose between six months and two years of their first, Public Health England (PHE) said.
The immunisations, introduced in 2008, were initially given in three doses until last year, when experts said two were just as effective.
In its report, PHE said: “The change is likely to have contributed to the national decrease [in vaccinations] by reducing the opportunities to vaccine females who missed their initial appointment or appointments.
“Eligible females not vaccinated in the 2014/15 school year will have opportunities to catch up in 2015/16 when the second dose of their course is offered.”
There are more than 100 types of HPV but only 13 of these cause cancer. The vaccination protects against types 16 and 18 which are responsible for 70 per cent of cases.