The introduction of policies for human papillomavirus vaccination in EuropeThe introduction of policies for human papillomavirus vaccination in Europe
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute (VAXINFECTIO)
Journal of public health. -
16(2008):4, p. 291-298
University of Antwerp
Background Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines represent a major advance in the prevention of cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases. The availability of HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening creates the unique opportunity to combine primary and secondary prevention of a cancer. HPV vaccination is currently being adopted in Europe at a faster rate than has been seen with most previous vaccines. Aims and methods This article analyses the reasons for the rapid and broad access to this cancer prevention measure to illustrate the new sociopolitical environment that drives vaccination policies in the 21st century. Results The promise of this intervention to prevent infection by the virus that can cause these diseases in young women created an environment receptive to vaccination. However, it was robust data generated by research specifically targeted to public health needs that have convinced various stakeholders to advocate, license, recommend, and fund vaccination. It was not just the usual host of actors who rallied to this process: early support for decision-making came from experts and scientific societies, patient and womens groups, and policy makers at the EU and national levels. Implementation now looms as the greatest challenge to vaccine uptake, in particular in the adolescent target group. Determinants of successful implementation include well-informed healthcare professionals who in turn can educate parents and adolescents on the infectious disease, its consequences, and the efficacy and safety of vaccination, and successful provision of equitable access to vaccination. The integration of vaccination and screening must also be carefully managed and adapted to the situation in each country. Conclusion Inevitably, the impact of this promising public health intervention will depend upon the continuing engagement of all stakeholders to maintain interest and confidence in vaccination.