Health

New HPV vaccine introduced in schools

Australian school students will receive an improved vaccine against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus from 2018.

NEW VACCINE AGAINST HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV) FOR AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN:

* HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that contributes to cervical cancers, as well as anal, vulvar and vaginal cancers and genital warts.

* Vaccine co-creator Professor Ian Frazer on Sunday told reporters about 250,000 women each year died from cervical cancer worldwide.

* The Gardasil vaccine, introduced about 10 years ago, protects against four strains of HPV. Prof Frazer said two of those strains contributed to about 75 per cent of cervical cancers.

* The federal government says HPV coverage rates are higher than ever, with 78.6 per cent of 15-year-old girls and 72.9 per cent of 15-year-old boys receiving their shots.

THE UPDATED VACCINE:

* The federal government has approved Gardasil 9 to be given free to 12- and 13-year-olds from 2018.

* Only two doses of the vaccine will be required, instead of the usual three.

* Gardisal 9 protects against nine strains, including most of the remaining 25 per cent of cervical cancers not covered by the earlier vaccine.

* Prof Frazer said the updated vaccine made it possible to protect against almost all cervical cancers and there was a real prospect of the cancer eventually disappearing from the community.

Sources: Professor Ian Frazer, the federal government, the Department of Health

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