Vaccination of adolescent girls against papillomavirus infection, which is linked to the emergence of many cancers, has seen an “improvement” in 2021, but it is still at “moderate levels” especially among the most disadvantaged groups, according to a study by the French public health authority.
In France, vaccination coverage of adolescent girls between the ages of 15 and 18 against this infection, especially related to uterine cancer, is estimated at 43.6%, according to the agency in its weekly epidemiological bulletin, published Tuesday.
Santé Publique France used data from Measures of Health in mainland France and in the Overseas Territories, where participants (24,514 in France, more than 6,000 in the Overseas Territories) were surveyed by phone by Ipsos between February and December 2021.
Thus, vaccination is seeing “progress” in this age group, according to the health agency. Previous data, quantified variously, estimated the proportion of 15-year-old girls vaccinated at 29.4% in 2018 and 45.8% in 2021.
However, vaccination coverage of young girls against this infection is still “moderate in France and far from the 60% target” of the 2014-2019 anti-cancer plan, as the SPF confirms.
It also appears to be among the lowest in Europe, while countries such as Finland, Hungary, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and Sweden have more than 70% of their teenage girls vaccinated.
Another note: Vaccination of adolescent girls against HPV reflects some disparities.
Geographically, vaccination coverage is particularly low in the overseas departments (13.8% in Guadeloupe, 17.2% in Martinique, 22.6% in Guyana, 24.0% in Reunion).
Social norms also play a role.
The higher the parents’ income, the more teenage girls are vaccinated. For girls with one or more unemployed parents, vaccination coverage is “particularly low”.
In mainland France, more than 13% of parents of teenage girls have never heard of HPV vaccination, which is a fairly stable percentage. But ignorance is higher in Outremers.
For non-vaccination, fear of side effects and fear of vaccine are the main reasons cited by parents. In some cases, the doctor has not suggested or even advised against using this injection.
Vaccination against HPV infection has been recommended in France for girls since 2007, for boys since 2021.
According to the SPF, “the regulation of vaccination by school medicine could make it possible to increase vaccination coverage,” as in other countries.
The Minister of Health, François Brown, has repeatedly expressed his desire to increase vaccination against HPV infection.