For most, vaccines are a welcome addition to routine care, but for some they are perceived as dangerous and threatening. In this blog, we hope to illustrate how vaccines contribute to the health of the population and we will start with their role in cancer control. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is now recognised as the principle causative factor in cancer of the cervix, anus and oropharynx (mouth and throat). Because this virus is an infective agent that raises antibodies, its effects can be prevented by vaccination, and thanks to the development of an effective vaccine by Ian Frazer and his group in Australia the virtual eradication of these cancers is now a possibility. In the UK, all girls and now boys aged 12 to 13 in school year 8 are offered HPV vaccination. With high adherence to this programme, it is anticipated that cervical screening will eventually become unnecessary and that suffering from a HPV related cancer will become a thing of the past. However, for this aspiration to be realised, is essential that this protection is extended to the vast majority of the population.
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