By: Jessica Daly
28 October 2010
Health officials are rethinking how to promote jabs against cervical cancer after the slow take up of a national vaccination programme among young women.
Switzerland rolled out a programme in 2008 to vaccinate girls and young women aged 11 to 19 against the human papilloma virus, or HPV, which causes around 2,000 Swiss women to develop the early stages of cervical cancer every year.
But at the start of 2010, just 36 per cent of the age group had been vaccinated. This national average hides two different pictures for French- and German-speaking parts of Switzerland.
In French cantons the rate of vaccinations was 57 per cent, as jabs are typically done by school doctors, a method which generally has produced the best vaccination rates in the past. In German cantons the rate was only 29 per cent – this mainly because vaccinations are done by family doctors, which takes more time in the long run.
A similar divide between French and German parts was experienced in vaccination campaigns against Hepatitis B.
Faced with this parallel process, a working committee has now been created with representatives of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Public Health and the Federal Health Office. They will be looking at best practice among the cantons and how to share those experiences in order to have a higher vaccination rate.