NHS sends out vaccine reminder

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NHS Tayside is issuing a reminder to girls to protect themselves from cervical cancer by taking up the offer of HPV vaccination.

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) immunisation programme is now in its third year and has been under way in schools throughout Scotland since September.

Earlier this year, NHS Tayside contacted school leavers aged between 16 and 18 and those who have not yet completed the programme inviting them to come along to a participating pharmacy across Tayside to receive their vaccine, which will protect them against the two main types of HPV, the main cause of cervical cancer.

Girls are given three separate jabs in their upper arm over a six-month period to get the best protection.

With the catch-up programme in its final year and due to finish at the end of August, NHS Tayside is now urging school leavers to complete the programme and ensure they are protected.

Anyone who has still to receive one or more their vaccines should contact a participating pharmacy to arrange for immunisation. To find out your nearest participating pharmacy please contact NHS Tayside’s Health Protection Team on 01382 596987 or 01382 596976.

Around 100 women in Scotland die each year from cervical cancer, with 300 cases being diagnosed annually and NHS Tayside is also urging eligible women of all ages to continue to take up the offer of a smear test every three years as ignoring the invitation can leave women unprotected from the early signs of cervical cancer.

Women aged between 20 and 60, who are or have been sexually active, can get a smear done at their local doctor’s surgery, family planning or well woman clinic and it is just as important for younger as well as older women to have the tests regularly.

Young women who have received the HPV Immunisation should also attend their cervical screening appointments to provide ongoing protection.

NHS Tayside screening co-ordinator Dr Julie Cavanagh said: “The HPV vaccine combined with regular cervical screening will offer women the best protection available against cervical cancer.

“There are over 300 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year in Scotland. By offering the HPV immunisation to girls, we hope to reduce the risk of them contracting this life-threatening disease later in life, and we would encourage all eligible girls to take up the offer of this vaccine.

“It is equally important that all women between 20 and 60 years old, who have ever been sexually active, should have a smear test every three years in order to check for cervical changes, which can then be treated before any cancer develops.”