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Monday 26th August 2019

Cervical cancer vaccine to be changed

25th November 2011

The vaccine used to protect girls against cervical cancer in the UK is set to be changed by the Department of Health.


The Department had opted for Cervarix in 2008 because it was regarded as cheaper, although that move attracted criticism from such sexual health experts.

However, from next September Gardasil will be used for teenage girls in this country as it also offers protection against genital warts which is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections.

While both vaccines protect against human papilloma virus (HPV) types 16 and 18 - which cause more than 70% of cervical cancer – Gardasil also protects against HPV types six and 11 which cause nearly all genital warts.

Data from the Health Protection Agency show that in 2010 some 75,000 people were diagnosed with genital warts.

Gardasil is made by Sanofi Pasteur MSD and is the most widely used of the two vaccines with 80 million doses distributed worldwide compared to 25 million of Cervarix, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.

The Government’s Director of Immunisation Professor David Salisbury said: “It’s not unusual for the NHS to change vaccines or other medicines - it can happen following competitive tendering exercises or when new research findings come to light.”

Dr Steve Taylor, consultant in sexual health medicine at Birmingham Heartlands hospital, welcomed the switch and pointed out that in Australia, cases of genital warts had fallen dramatically since the introduction of Gardasil.

The Department of Health says 400 deaths a year from cervical cancer will be prevented by the vaccination programme.


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