HPV vaccination rate rises up to 63 percent; large cities still behind
Increasingly more people are getting vaccinated against the HPV virus which can cause cervical cancer. The HPV vaccination rate for girls born in 2006 is now at 63 percent which is 10 percent higher than last year. Yet, vaccination rates in major cities are lagging behind.
“Ten percent increase in HPV vaccination is a huge step”, RIVM program manager of the National Vaccination Program, Jeanne-Marie Hament, said to NU.nl.
Every year, one thousand women and 500 men in the Netherlands get cancer after contracting the HPV virus. The virus is sexually transmitted, and the vaccine is more effective before a person becomes sexually active. Thus, children are often given the vaccine the year they turn 13. Many people who come in contact with the virus are unaware that they have been infected.
The difference between the national vaccination rate and the rate in the four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) is striking. Vaccination rates are low amongst young people with a Turkish or Moroccan, the RIVM said.
“In these four large cities, for example, only 14 percent of girls with parents from a Moroccan background have been vaccinated against HPV, while there is a national average of 63 percent”, Hament said. She stated the RIVM is not sure how to increase information about HPV vaccination. “Do we provide sufficient information material? You have to be careful with assumptions about why the vaccination rate is lower and talk to young people and parents.”
The GGD has launched local initiatives to spread awareness about the HPV virus, including personally inviting families so that the vaccination can be discussed.
Starting next year, HPV vaccines will also be offered to boys because the HPV virus can not only cause cervical cancer, but also cancer in the mouth, throat, anus and penis. “I hope that parents are motivated to have their children vaccinated against it. It is nice to think that in the future young people become as much as possible HPV free”, Hamnent said.