Prevention of cervical cancer: Govt to provide vaccines for girls in age group of 9-14 years

New Delhi: The union government has decided to provide Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to girls in the age group of 9-14 years as a primary prevention measure against cervical cancer.

The plan is to provide the vaccines through schools, according to the joint letter readied by Union Education Secretary Sanjay Kumar and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and is the cause of precancerous lesions that may progress to cancer. Globally, cervical cancer is the 4th most common cancer in women. In India, cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in women and contributes to the largest proportion of global cervical cancer burden.

National Technical Advisory Group of Immunization (NTAGI) Standing Technical Sub-Committee (STSC) had recommended the union government to include the vaccine under India’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP). On the other hand, the Serum Institute of India and department of biotechnology will launch the country's first indigenous HPV vaccine in April 2022. The letter comes in the backdrop of this.

The letter has directed the states and union territories to take the needful measures to facilitate vaccination through schools. The other major recommendations in the letter are:

  • Create awareness about cervical cancers for students and parents
  • Appoint a person from school as a nodal officer
  • Vaccination centre will be the responsibility of district education officer, district magistrate, district immunisation officer
Meanwhile, the per dose market price of indigenous HPV vaccine will be in Rs 200 to Rs 400 range.

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