A quarter of Australian girls eligible for the free Gardasil vaccine are not taking up the offer, prompting a move to dispel the ‘myths’ surrounding the cancer fighting jab.
Studies into the vaccine’s uptake in schools reveal a poor understanding of the way it protects against cervical cancer, says Cancer Council Australia spokeswoman Kate Broun.
Some parents are also put off by their pubescent daughters being offered a vaccine targeting a sexually transmitted infection when the girls are only 12 or 13 and far from being sexually active.
“For some parents that has been a concern and it is a reason they have not consented to the vaccine,” Ms Broun said on Monday.
“But I guess we would say there is no evidence to suggest that a girl who has been vaccinated has gone on to have sex earlier, or have any more sexual partners, than a girl who has not been vaccinated.”
“Perhaps that is a fear for some parents but it is not a fear backed by the evidence.” Health authorities aim to administer the Gardasil vaccine before sexual activity begins, to maximise its effectiveness.
The vaccine protects against four strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which are sexually transmitted and can cause genital warts more immediately or cervical cancer later in a woman’s life. With good take-up in the community, it could reduce the nation’s future incidence of cervical cancer by 70 per cent and cut cases of genital warts also by 90 per cent.
Other research has shown around half of teenage girls were unaware that HPV was sexually transmitted, while two out of three did not know of its link to cervical cancer.
Cancer Council Australia is on Tuesday launching a new website (found at 深圳桑拿网,cervicalcancervaccine深圳桑拿,深圳桑拿网,) with the aim of boosting awareness and providing more information to parents.
The launch coincides with the latest round of Gardasil vaccinations in schools, and parents may have already received the relevant consent forms.
Ms Broun said there were also cases where parents had changed their mind after opting out of the free vaccine, only to find Gardasil costs $450 to obtain through a doctor.
“If we can encourage as many girls as possible to have the vaccine it will have a dramatic future health benefit for Australia,” she said.
“The dream is to eradicate cancer by immunising people against a virus that we know causes cancer … hopefully we can dispel some of those myths and provide parents with the information they need.”