29 Jun 2009

Slow uptake of cervical cancer vaccine

2:07 pm on 29 June 2009

Inaccurate claims about Gardasil are behind the slow uptake of the cervical cancer vaccine, according to Auckland University's Immunisation Advisory Centre.

Ministry of Health figures show 26% of girls aged 12 to 16 years and 35% of those aged 17 to 18 have begun the course of three injections.

Immunisation Advisory Centre director Dr Nikki Turner says inaccurate claims about side effects and inadequate testing have scared people.

She says educating people from a young age about how vaccines are developed and how they work is essential for the success of future immunisation campaigns.

Ms Turner says people have also been slow to get the vaccine because cervical cancer is a less immediate threat than illnesses such as meningitis.

The chief executive of the organisation Family Planning, Jackie Edmond, says the vaccine guards against a virus that can be spread through sexual contact.

She says that has prompted absurd claims immunisation would encourage promiscuity.

Last year, the previous Labour-led Government committed $177 million to vaccinate 300,000 girls over five years.