A letter from Public Health England, the Department of Health and NHS England was disseminated today detailing changes to the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme. From September 2014, the schedule will change from 3 to 2 doses. The HPV vaccine is currently routinely offered to girls aged 12 to 13 in school year 8.
This follows a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) this March. Recent research shows that antibody response to the 2 dose schedule in adolescent girls is equivalent to the response that correlated with protection against persistent infection and precancerous lesions in the initial vaccine trials. Both Gardasil and Cervarix have been approved for use in a 2 dose schedule.
Since 2008, the first year of the routine vaccination programme for 12 to 13 year old girls, acceptance of the vaccine has been consistently high. In the school year starting September 2012, 89.6% of girls received at least 2 doses of vaccine, and 86.1% completed the 3 dose course. Recent data indicate that the HPV vaccination programme has successfully reduced vaccine-type HPV infections in sexually active young women in England. It is hoped the new dosage schedule will build upon this success.
Unlike the current schedule, the 2 doses of the new schedule must be given at least 6 months and not more than 24 months apart. Consult the complete letter for detailed guidance on the recommended gaps between the 2 doses.
Importantly, girls who have received 2 HPV vaccine doses under the 2013 to 2014 programme should still receive their third dose, to complete their course. An updated Q & A for health professionals and revised information leaflet will be available from mid-June.
For further information, please read the full letter outlining programme changes.
- Mesher D, Soldan K, Howell-Jones R, Panwar K, Manyenga P, Jit M, Beddows S, Gill ON. Reduction in HPV 16/18 prevalence in sexually active young women following the introduction of HPV immunisation in England. Vaccine 2013; 32(1):26-32.