Health Secretary Alan Johnson today (Friday 26 October) announced the introduction of a human papilloma virus (HPV) immunisation programme to routinely vaccinate girls aged 12–13 years of age against cervical cancer, starting from September 2008.
Mr Johnson also confirmed that there would be a two-year catch up campaign starting in Autumn 2009, for girls up to 18 years. The routine programme could cost up to £100m a year and the catch up programme could cost up to £200m in 2009/10 and 20010/11.
However, the Department of Health (DH) aims to negotiate a reduction in vaccine price during the procurement process.
The DH says this announcement signals the health secretary's determination to shift NHS focus "from a sickness service to a wellbeing service – taking action today which may not have immediate effects, but will prevent more serious illness and much bigger costs in years to come."
Alan Johnson says: "As a society we need to do more to prevent disease and not just treat it. Now, more than ever before, we need to make the NHS a service that prevents ill health and prioritises keeping people well. This means a shift in focus from a sickness service to a wellbeing service.
"Prevention is always better than cure, and this vaccine will prevent many women from catching the human papilloma virus in the first place, potentially saving around 400 hundred lives a year.