1 December 2023

Emmanuel Macron speaks to students from the Jean-Lartaut college, in Jarnac (Charente), on February 28, 2023.

The government wants to accelerate the prevention of diseases induced by the human papillomavirus (HPV). During a trip to a college in Jarnac, in Charente, Emmanuel Macron announced, Tuesday, February 28, the launch, from the next school year, of a generalized free vaccination campaign in schools, for all students in class. of 5e. Thanks to this system, the Head of State hopes to enable 800,000 students per year to be protected against HPV-related cancers. Parental consent will be required before any injection, said the Elysée. But “the question will arise as to whether at some point it will be made compulsory”added Mr. Macron.

In addition, again to facilitate access to this vaccination, pharmacists, midwives and nurses will be able, from September, to both prescribe and inject the necessary doses of vaccine. This simplified access will be possible for children from 11 years old. This clarification is important since, since November, pharmacists could only vaccinate from the age of 16.

However, several studies have shown that the effectiveness of the vaccine against HPV was very strong if it was carried out at the beginning of adolescence, before entering into an active sexual life. According to a Swedish study published in October 2020 in The New England Journal of Medicine, “cervical cancer risk in participants who started vaccination before age 17 was 88% lower than in participants who had never been vaccinated”. This risk reduction is only 53% when vaccination is initiated between 17 and 30 years of age.

But according to data from Public Health France, at the end of 2021, only 45.8% of young girls aged 15 had received a dose. Among boys of the same age, vaccination coverage reached 6%.

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More than 6,000 new cases of cancer per year

Vaccinate young girls and boys early and as widely as possible. This is what associations fighting against cancer have been claiming for years. Because the consequences of an HPV infection concern both sexes. If, in most cases, the body eliminates the virus on its own within a year of infection, the latter can sometimes become chronic, revealing in some cases precancerous lesions that can gradually evolve into cancer.

Each year, HPVs are the cause of more than 30,000 precancerous lesions of the cervix, sometimes with significant consequences, such as the risk of premature delivery more than doubled in infected pregnant women. In all, HPVs cause more than 6,000 new cases of cancer per year: nearly 3,000 cancers of the cervix causing more than 1,000 deaths per year, 1,500 cancers of the ENT sphere, 1,500 of the anus, 200 of the vulva or vagina and a hundred penile cancers.

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