Fewer Dutch toddlers vaccinated; only 45 pct. of girls vaccinated against HPV

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Last year 90.2 percent of 2-year-olds in the Netherlands got their vaccinations, 1,720 toddlers less than in 2016. Only 45 percent of girls were vaccinated against HPV, the virus that can cause cervical cancer, RTL Nieuws and NU.nl report based on the annual figures of public heath institute RIVM. 

Toddlers in the Netherlands are vaccinated against diseases like polio, measles, tetanus and whooping cough. Four years ago the Netherlands dropped below the 95 percent mark of vaccinated children for the first time. According to the World Health Organization, 95 percent of a population needs to be vaccinated to guarantee group immunity for measles. Other diseases have a lower limit.

Girls are vaccinated against HPV when they are 12 or 13 years old. This vaccination started in 2009. In the first years, around 60 percent of Dutch girls got this vaccination. Last year only 45 percent did. As a result, the RIVM estimates that around 60 cases of cervical cancer will not be prevented each year. Other countries also saw a lower turnout for the HPV vaccine, but the RIVM considers the large decline in the Netherlands concerning. 

According to RTL, fewer parents are having their daughters vaccinated against HPV mainly due to doubts about the vaccine. There are many negative rumors about the vaccine, the broadcaster found out when it asked a question about it on Facebook. Among other things, parents believe that the vaccine doesn't work properly and has serious side effects. While no scientific studies gave any reason for such doubts, the RIVM can't manage to suppress the negative stories.

HPV, or the Human Papilloma Virus, is a sexually transmitted virus that is very contagious - not even the use of a condom can guarantee that you won't be infected. Around 80 to 90 percent of people, both men and women, get this virus at some point in their lives, according to RTL. In most cases the immune system can fight the virus off without intervention. When that does not happen, the virus can cause cervical cancer in women. Around 200 women die per year of cervical cancer caused by HPV. The virus can also cause other types of cancer, also in men, like anus cancer, penis cancer, vaginal cancer and throat cancer.