Vaccination Against The Human Papillomavirus In Middle School In 5 Questions

Starting from the 2023 school year and throughout the entire school year, all middle school students in France will be offered the HPV vaccination at school. We invite you to understand everything about this vaccination campaign in 5 questions.

What is the papillomavirus?

The word "papillomavirus" refers not to one, but several very common viruses. There are over 150 types in total.

These viruses infect the skin and mucous membranes, primarily through sexual contact. They are transmitted through contact from the first sexual relations and can cause precancerous lesions and cancers.

In about 90% of cases, the infection disappears within 1 to 2 years. However, in 10% of infected individuals, it causes precancerous lesions that can develop into cancer.

Human papillomaviruses (also known as HPV) are responsible for anogenital warts, cervical cancer, as well as penile, anal, vulvar, vaginal, and throat cancers. This highlights the importance of vaccinating adolescents before their first sexual relations.

2- Who is this vaccine recommended for?

After being recommended for girls since 2007, the papillomavirus vaccine is also recommended for boys since 2021.

Today in France, HPV vaccination is not mandatory, but it is strongly recommended for:

- all girls and boys aged 11 to 14 because the vaccine is particularly effective when young people have not yet had sexual relations and have not been exposed to this type of virus. In this case, vaccination is carried out in two injections spaced 6 to 13 months apart.

- girls and boys aged 15 to 19 if they have exceeded the vaccination recall period. In this case, 3 injections are necessary.

- men who have sex with other men up to the age of 26. Once again, three injections are necessary.

3- What vaccines are available against human papillomavirus?

In France, two vaccines are available against human papillomavirus:
• Cervarix vaccine, which protects against types 16 and 18 of the virus
• Gardasil 9 vaccine, which protects against types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.

Note: These two vaccines are not interchangeable. A vaccination started with one vaccine must be completed with the same product.

Due to its broader coverage, the High Council of Public Health recommends starting any new vaccination with Gardasil 9 for those who have not been vaccinated. Gardasil 9 targets the papillomaviruses responsible for 90% of cervical cancers, 80% of anal cancers, and 90% of anogenital warts.

4- Why vaccinate your child against the human papillomavirus?

In France, 6400 cancers are linked to HPV each year, including 2900 cases of cervical cancer. The human papillomavirus vaccine is one of the few existing protections against these cancers.

Getting your child vaccinated from the age of 11 improves the effectiveness of this vaccination by preventing infection with these viruses before the child is exposed to them.

In France, over 6 million doses of this vaccine have been administered to adolescents in the past 10 years. More than 300 million young people have been vaccinated worldwide, and international studies supported by the WHO confirm the safety of this vaccine.

5- How does the vaccination process take place in middle school?

The vaccination against the human papillomavirus in middle school will be offered starting from the fall of 2023 to all 5th grade students.

This prevention campaign will allow students to be vaccinated for free in their school. Mobile teams of healthcare professionals from vaccination centers will travel to the middle schools to administer the vaccines.

This vaccination, which is not mandatory, requires parental consent. Parents, who were already informed of this measure last June, will receive an information kit including a parental authorization form to fill out.

This nationwide operation in middle schools aims to improve the vaccination coverage of French adolescents, in order to prevent around 6000 new cases of cancer caused by the papillomavirus each year.

The HPV vaccination campaign will be repeated every year in middle schools. The goal set by the Minister of Health and the Minister of National Education is to protect an entire generation against these cancers.

Author: Audrey
Copyright image: SELF Magazine
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In French: La vaccination contre le papillomavirus au collège en 5 questions
En español: La vacunación contra el virus del papiloma en la escuela en 5 preguntas
In italiano: La vaccinazione contro il papillomavirus a scuola in 5 domande
Auf Deutsch: Die HPV-Impfung in der Schule in 5 Fragen
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