Cervical cancer: a single dose of vaccine for women under 21?

Since the 2000s, a vaccine was developed to protect women Cervical cancer. This type of cancer is almost always caused by a sexually transmitted infection in the papilloma virus.

A cancer that kills a woman in the world every 2 minutes

This disease represents a global public health problem because “a woman dies about every two minutes” of cervical cancer around the world, recalled the president of the WHO (World Health Organization) expert committee on vaccine policy, Dr. Alejandro Cravioto, in a press release published on Monday 11 April (source 1). If until now the WHO recommended two doses of the vaccinefor women of all ages, the WHO expert committee says that now, a single dose of HPV vaccine is sufficient for those under 21 years of age.

Furthermore, WHO continues to recommend injecting two doses of the vaccine six months apart women over 21 years of age. Same recommendation for immunocompromised peoplemainly people with HIV “who are sometimes advised to administer” at least two or even three doses, so that they are completely immunized “, explained Dr. Alejandro Cravioto in the statement. Health also clarifies in its statement that the national programs vaccination can, however, continue to use two doses if they deem it necessary.

The goal of these new recommendations is to make the vaccination process easier allow more girls and women to be vaccinated against papillomavirus. While global vaccination coverage with a 2-dose program was only 13% in 2020, “this single-dose recommendation has the potential to push us faster towards our goal of vaccinating 90% of girls by the age of 15 by the age of 15. 2030, “said WHO Assistant Director-General Princess Nothemba Simelela in the statement. In France, in 2020, it was estimated at 41% for a 15-year dose.

What are the recommendations in France for the HPV vaccine?

Human papilloma virus (HPV) they are very common and often benign viruses transmitted during sexual contact. According to the Vaccination Info Service, around 8 out of 10 women are exposed to these viruses during their lifetime. In 60% of cases, the infection occurs early in sexual life. Some infections called high-risk HPVit can cause injuries that can evolve in ten to twenty years towards a cancer, cervical cancer but also throat cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer in men. Recall that every year in France nearly 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and about 1,000 women die from it.

The vaccination against papillomavirus infections has been recommended since 2007, in France, mainly for girls. As of January 1, 2021, this vaccine is also recommended the boys since it also protects against ENT tumors or anal cancer. “Practiced before the onset of sexual life, the effectiveness of vaccination in preventing the HPV infection included in the vaccine is close to 100%,” explains the Vaccination Info Service. Therefore, the French health authorities recommend the vaccination of older girls and boys 11 to 14 years with a 2-dose regimen (source 2).

The Vaccination info Service, however, remembers several cases where the recommendations for vaccination against papillomavirus differ:

  • under the vaccinated recoveryl, vaccination is recommended for young women and young men aged 15-19 according to a 3-dose schedule;
  • the vaccine is recommended up to the age of 19, in immunocompromised boys and girls, of the same age as the general population, and from 9 years, in children (boys and girls) candidates for solid organ transplantation;
  • the vaccine is recommended until the age of 26, a men who have or have had sex with other men.

Two vaccines are currently available in France:

  • the Cervarix® vaccine protects against HPV 16 and 18.
  • the Gardasil 9® vaccine protects against HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58.
  • the Gardasil® vaccine which protected against 4 strains of the HPV virus is no longer marketed.

“Vaccination does not protect against all HPV related to cervical cancer. For this reason, smear screening must be carried out every three years from 25 to 65 years, vaccinated or not, ”recalls the Vaccination Info Service.

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