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The region fails to achieve the goal of eliminating cervical cancer

The region fails to achieve the goal of eliminating cervical cancer

It is urgent to vaccinate more women against HPV if we are to eliminate the infection.

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The ambitious plan to eliminate cervical cancer appears to be collapsing. Only 38 percent of the target group in Stockholm accepted the vaccination offer.

If 70% of women born in 1994-1999 were vaccinated against HPV, so-called herd immunity would be achieved. The infection that can cause cervical cancer would then be eliminated.

But so far, only 38% have responded to the vaccination offer in the Stockholm area.

The target is to reach 70 percent this year, across the country. Only 6 of Sweden's 21 regions will be ready.

Since 2010, girls have received the vaccine through the school health service, and since 2020 also for boys. Now they want to cover the vaccination gap that occurred for those born before vaccinations began.

150 die

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is made up of 200 different types of viruses, some of which can cause cancer. It is spread mainly through sexual contact.

Every year, about 550 women develop cervical cancer in Sweden, and about 150 die from the disease.

In 2021, the region decided to offer a so-called catch-up vaccination to 76,000 women in the age group, a step towards achieving the World Health Organization’s goal of eliminating this type of cancer.

– We benefited when we built vaccination capacity during the pandemic, and then other regions followed suit, says opposition councilor Desiree Petros (KD), who championed this issue.

The opposition is critical

Last spring, the Moderates asked to know what measures were being taken to increase vaccination, and now the Sweden Democrats and Christian Democrats are also demanding information.

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“With the current vaccination rate, it will take approximately 9 years (!) for the region to reach the target,” KD wrote.

KD also proposes closing the vaccination gap for boys and young adults, and that the district quickly vaccinate those still in high school.

“There doesn’t seem to be a greater commitment to this in the current board, and that worries me,” says Petros.

Invitations can be sent.

But Karen Valden (centre) of the regional council disagrees with this description:

– We have vaccinated the largest number of people in the country, but it has become slower recently. Therefore, we have ongoing information dissemination activities, for example, through multilingual health informants and at events such as Järvaveckan, she says.

In addition, they are now considering sending invitations to women in areas where vaccination rates are lowest.

Both boys and girls are vaccinated

Since 2010, HPV vaccination has been offered to girls (born 1999 onwards) through the school health service in the fifth and sixth grades.

Since 2020, vaccinations are also offered to boys (born 2009 onwards) via the school health service.

Women born in 1994-1999 can get the vaccination for free at a midwife's clinic, Vaccindirekt or Glömstapoolen.

Women aged 23 to 64 are regularly called for a Pap smear. In the Stockholm area, HPV vaccination is offered at the first check-up.

Even women who have been previously vaccinated can get vaccinated, as there is now a new, more effective vaccine.

Source: Cancer Foundation

There doesn't seem to be any major commitment