Over 137,000 young women have taken up the free HPV vaccine offer through the temporary vaccination programme.
Women born in 1991 or later were offered the vaccine for a limited period from 2016 to 2019. The offer was made to capture those who did not received the offer earlier or declined to have the vaccine when they were younger.
Six out of ten in the target group took advantage of the opportunity to get the vaccine through the programme, according to a survey from Sysvak or the Norwegian Immunisation Registry. A total of 380,000 doses were added because each woman must receive three doses to be fully vaccinated.
The Institute of Public Health is very pleased with the result
“The fact that over 380,000 doses of HPV vaccine was administered during the period shows that many wanted to protect themselves. The high number is particularly gratifying when one knows that it requires the women to set aside time to get a vaccine,” said Margrethe Greve-Isdahl, chief medical officer at the Institute of Public Health.
Vaccine is no longer free
The programme lasted til July 1 this year. Those who were unable to take all the doses by the deadline can contact their GP to get the remaining doses. But the women will now have to pay for the vaccination themselves.
It is not a problem that it takes longer than planned to complete the vaccination but the time between doses should not be shorter than recommended, the Institute of Public Health reports.
The vaccine targets the HPV virus, short for human papillomavirus. There is a large group of viruses consisting of about 200 different types. Some of these cause warts on the fingers and toes. About 40 types are transmitted through sexual contact. The vaccine reduces the risk of developing cervical and other HPV-related cancers.
The vaccine was included in the child vaccination programme in 2009. From autumn 2018, boys were also included.
Only half vaccinated in Eastern Norway
The overview of those vaccinated varies somewhat geographically for the retrieval programme. While over 66 per cent of young women in Trøndelag agreed to get the vaccine, the proportion was far lower in Eastern Norway. In Østfold, Vestfold and Buskerud, 52 per cent were vaccinated while between 53 and 58 per cent were vaccinated in Akershus, Telemark and Oslo .
However, the statistics are based on the woman’s address in the National Register and the number of young women vaccinated will be higher in places other than the home municipality because of where they studied and worked. Thus, the overview does not give a complete picture for each municipality, the Institute of Public Health pointed out.
Vaccine and regular screening important
Some of the young women may already have an HPV infection when vaccinated and which the vaccine cannot protect against.
“It is therefore important that vaccinated women continue to have their cervix examined and cell samples taken. We will first look at the effect of vaccination in the longer term. You get the best protection against cervical cancer if you are vaccinated and go for regular cervical screening,” says Greve Isdahl.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today