Free anti-cancer vaccine for children updated to bolster disease prevention

An updated vaccine that protects against several deadly cancers, including almost all cervical cancers, will be given free to Australian students.

The federal government has approved Gardasil 9 to be given to 12 and 13-year-olds from 2018.

The improved vaccine will protect recipients against nine strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), instead of the current four, and could prevent almost 90 per cent of cervical cancers.

Some high-risk HPV types are responsible for about five per cent of cancers worldwide including cervical cancer, some forms of throat cancers and anal cancer.

“The new vaccine will make sure that even more people are protected against cancer,” vaccine creator Professor Ian Frazer told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

“More importantly, those women who have screening for cervical cancer are much less likely to have an abnormal test they’ll need treatment for.

“There’s a real prospect that over time, the viruses that cause the cancer will disappear from the community and the cancer will go too.”

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