a dose of vaccine sufficient for young people according to the WHO

More than 340,000 women died from cervical cancer in 2020. It is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide.

One dose of the HPV vaccine, which causes uterine cancer, provides similar protection to two doses for those under 21, the WHO’s expert committee on vaccine policy said on Monday (April 11th).

Cancers of the cervix are almost always caused by a sexually transmitted infection with the papillomavirus. Since the mid-2000s, vaccines have been available against it. In the light of the latest data, the expert committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) now considers that a single dose is sufficient to protect 9-14 year olds and also 15-20 year olds, instead of two previously recommended.

These new recommendations should enable more girls and women to be vaccinated, “while maintaining the necessary level of protection“, indicated the chairman of the committee, Dr. Alejandro Cravioto, at a press conference. National immunization programs can, however, continue to use two doses if they deem it necessary, he said. In addition, WHO experts continue to recommend two doses six months apart for women over 21 years of age. “As for immunocompromised people, mainly people with HIV, we recommend giving them at least two or even three doses, so that they are fully immunized.“, underlined Dr. Alejandro Cravioto.

Low vaccination coverage worldwide

More than 340,000 women died from cervical cancer in 2020. It is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide. “A woman dies approximately every two minutes from this disease.“Said the chairman of the WHO committee. About 90% of new cases and deaths worldwide in 2020 occurred in low- and middle-income countries. “I am a firm believer that eliminating cervical cancer is possible“, underlined in a press release Dr Princess Nothemba Simelela, assistant director general of the WHO. “This single-dose recommendation has the potential to move us faster towards our goal of having 90% of girls aged 15 immunized by 2030.“, she estimated. In 2020, global coverage with a 2-dose vaccination schedule was only 13%.

According to the WHO, several factors have influenced the slow introduction of the vaccine and the low vaccination coverage in some countries, including supply difficulties, the relatively high cost of the vaccine, as well as the difficulties associated with the administration of two doses to adolescent girls who are not usually included in childhood immunization programs. “The single-dose option of the vaccine is less expensive, less resource-intensive and easier to administer“, Said Rre Princess Nothemba Simelela.

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