Gardasil to be used in the UK HPV vaccination programme from September 2012
Posted by Anne Szarewski, Editor in Chief, JFPRHC
The Department of Health made the announcement this week, though it was an inevitability, since there was only one vaccine being considered. GSK had made the decision not to participate in the tender process back in September, but the DH perhaps wanted to make sure that this year’s school vaccination schedule was not derailed by parental confusion – by now most girls in this year’s programme will have had their first two vaccinations of Cervarix.
While Gardasil offers protection against genital warts, which Cervarix does not, Cervarix has been shown to give greater protection against cervical cancer, due to its much greater cross protection against non-vaccine HPV types. Indeed, this was acknowledged in the recent paper by Jit et al (BMJ 2011;343:d5775 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d5775).
However, there has been mounting pressure for protection against genital warts, so this outcome will be welcomed by many, especially our colleagues in GUM. However, if discussing the decision with parents who may be worried that their daughter was ‘given the wrong vaccine’ we can reassure them that by having Cervarix, those girls will have had the benefit of greater protection against cancer. It is a shame that one has to choose: I have long suggested that a potential solution would be to vaccinate girls with Cervarix and boys with Gardasil, which would give herd immunity against warts, offer protection to MSM and still allow girls the better cancer protection.