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DH tentatively agrees to HPV vaccine for girls

The Department of Health has agreed "in principle" that 12 to 13-year-old girls should routinely receive human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines.

If the plan goes ahead, and a new vaccine is introduced into the national immunisation programme, it is estimated that cervical cases will drop by 70%.

The decision to introduce the vaccine is however, subject to independent peer review of the cost benefit analysis.

Details of the programme are to be finalised over the next few months but routine vaccination of girls could start as early as autumn 2008.

Smear tests will still be used to test for abnormities after the HPV vaccine is introduced.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said: "It is great news that vaccines have been developed that protect women against this form of cancer and I am delighted to announce that we intend, in principle, to introduce an HPV vaccine into the national immunisation programme.

"The benefits of introducing this vaccine will be felt by women and their families for generations to come.

"This vaccine will prevent many women from catching the HPV virus in the first place, potentially saving hundreds of lives."

She adds that a "significant amount of planning" is needed before the immunisation programme can be introduced.

"We are still working on the details and logistics, and will work closely with the NHS to ensure the vaccination can be delivered effectively," she says.

Department of Health