Updated
April 5th, 2019

Scotland's HPV Vaccination Significantly Reduced Cervical Cancer

Bivalent HPV vaccine confirmed as being highly effective at reducing the incidence of cervical cancer

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A new study from Scotland reported that routine vaccination of young girls with the bivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine led to a dramatic reduction in preinvasive cervical disease.

This study compared unvaccinated women born in 1988, with HPV vaccinated women born in 1995 and 1996, and showed the following results: 

  • 89% reduction in prevalent Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia (CIN) grade 3 or worse,
  • 88% reduction in CIN grade 2 or worse, and,
  • 79% reduction in CIN grade 1.

Additionally, when vaccinated at a younger age, the HPV vaccine was associated with increasing vaccine effectiveness:

  • 86% for CIN grade 3 or worse for women vaccinated at age 12-13 compared with,
  • 51% for women vaccinated at age 17.

Moreover, this study showed evidence of herd protection against high-grade cervical disease was found in unvaccinated girls in the 1995 and 1996 cohorts. 

This study’s findings will need to be considered by cervical cancer prevention programmes worldwide, said these researchers in a press release.  

Glasgow Caledonian University’s Senior Research Fellow Dr. Kevin Pollock is one of the lead researchers in the study championing the impact of the vaccine along with academics from Universities of Strathclyde, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh. 

Dr. Pollock said, “The conclusion is that the vaccine has exceeded expectation.” 

“It is associated with near elimination of both low and high-grade cervical disease in young Scottish women 8 years after the vaccine programme started.” 

“These data are consistent with the reduced circulation of high-risk HPV infection in Scotland and confirm that the HPV vaccine should significantly reduce cervical cancer in the next few years.” 

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“The main message (from this study) is that the vaccine works.” 

“As long as the high uptake continues, the virus has got nowhere to go and it is being eliminated.” 

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The Scotland research collaboration also involved NHS Scotland organizations; Health Protection Scotland, the Information Services Division and the Scottish Human Papillomavirus Reference Laboratory.

In the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adolescent boys and girls up to 15 years of age receive two doses of the HPV vaccine, beginning at age 11 or 12.

Those who start the vaccine series later, at ages 15 through 45, should receive three doses, according to CDC guidelines. 

The Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against 9 of more than 150 HPV strains and is available in the USA at select clinics and pharmacies in the USA.

Vaccines can cause side effects, which should be reported to your healthcare provider, or the CDC.