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Nation to promote free HPV vaccinations in more regions | Updated: 2022-07-14 15:52
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A woman is inoculated with a cervical cancer vaccine in Jing'an county in Yichun, Jiangxi province on April 10, 2021. [Photo/VCG]

China's top health authority said regions with favorable local conditions are encouraged to offer free vaccines against the human papillomavirus to protect women and girls from cervical cancer, CCTV reported on Wednesday.

As China currently has not included the HPV vaccination into its national immunization regimen, local governments with adequate resources are encouraged to pilot vaccination projects, as part of an effort to help increase the inoculation rate of HPV vaccines among young girls in the country, according to the National Health Commission.

In May 2021, the commission launched pilot projects focused on cervical cancer prevention strategies in 15 key cities, to formulate relevant regulations and introduce awareness campaigns.

At present, provinces such as Guangdong, Hainan and Fujian have all rolled out policies aimed at covering all schoolgirls eligible for HPV vaccinations.

China has so far approved five HPV vaccines, including two homegrown ones.

According to an expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, by the end of 2020, China had administered nearly 12.28 million HPV vaccines, up from about 3.42 million by the end of 2018.

But the overall vaccination rate remains relatively low due to the large number of women eligible for HPV vaccines and limited supplies in the country. Moreover, the HPV vaccination rate of school-age girls in China is less than 1 percent.

Cervical cancer involves a malignant tumor that seriously threatens women's health. Studies have shown that persistent infection of high-risk HPV is directly related to the incidence of cervical cancer, with the two most common virus strains-Type 16 and Type 18 responsible for nearly 85 percent of cervical pre-cancers.

Inoculation for school-age girls can effectively block the infection and reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and precancerous lesions, especially for girls who have not been infected with HPV yet.

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