Scotland - nine in ten receive first cervical cancer jab

In collaboration with the Press Association

The overwhelming majority of Scottish schoolgirls eligible for the cervical cancer vaccine have already received the first dose, it has been revealed.

Scotland's first wide-spread anti-cancer immunisation programme was launched on September 1st last year as part of an attempt to protect people from a virus which causes 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

Three doses need to be delivered over the course of six months, and as of February 16th 2009, 92.2 per cent of a sample of the schoolchildren targeted had received the first injection and 87.8 per cent the second.

Scotland's chief medical officer Dr Harry Burns described the figures as "hugely encouraging".

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK's head of policy, said: "These figures are very encouraging. It is important that there is good take-up of the HPV vaccine for the programme to be as effective as possible. But it is important that those girls who have had the vaccine should understand that it is still vital for them to attend cervical screening when invited.

"HPV vaccines are an exciting development and have the potential to prevent the majority of cervical cancers in future. We urge all young women who have had the first two doses of the vaccine to get the third."

The second and third doses are still being administered and final figures for the first year of the programme are not due to be published until later this year.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports the "Jade Goody effect" has led to a surge in the number of people coming forward for cervical cancer screening in the Forth Valley area of Scotland.

More than 750 women have been screened every week in recent times, which is around double the number a few months ago.