Papillomavirus: only 10% of 5th grade middle school students have so far been vaccinated

Papillomavirus: only 10% of 5th grade middle school students have so far been vaccinated

As expected, the vaccination campaign against papillomavirus in college did not achieve the expected success. Only 10% of 5th grade students have received a first dose of vaccine, according to first provisional figures from the Ministry of Health.

“According to partial reports from regional health agencies, at least 92,262 students were vaccinated in colleges as of December 23, 2023,” indicated the Directorate General of Health.

“At this stage of the HPV vaccination campaign in middle school, the figures show a vaccination rate of 5th grade students around 10%,” she said. We are far from the objective set by the Ministry of Health at the beginning of September, which was at least 30% of students vaccinated at college for this first edition.

Promised at the start of 2023 by President Emmanuel Macron, this vaccination campaign against human papillomaviruses (HPV), the cause of numerous cancers (cervix, vulva, vagina, ENT, anus, etc.) was launched at the beginning of October in all public colleges, and voluntary private establishments.

Questioned in November, Aurélien Rousseau, then Minister of Health, recognized that the government’s initial objective would probably not be achieved, while hoping that 150,000 5th grade students could be vaccinated this year. “It’s a start, it will take tenacity,” he said, referring to a need to “adapt the tools.”

A “slightly complicated” organization

At the beginning of January, officials from the French Society of Colposcopy and Cervicovaginal Pathology (SFCPCV) judged that this vaccination was far from expectations, with a “disappointing” first glimpse. For the SFCPCV, the campaign suffered, among other things, from an administrative organization that was “a bit heavy and complicated”.

“The colleges received large envelopes to distribute to parents with an information letter, (…) and the authorization sheet to be signed by both parents. And on the day of vaccination, you also need the health record,” recalled Geoffroy Canlorbe, secretary general of the Learned Society and practitioner at the AP-HP.

The campaign may also have been affected by the death of a schoolboy near Nantes, victim of a fall after post-vaccination discomfort. The general secretariat of Catholic education recommended at the end of October to “suspend” it in Catholic colleges under contract for “precautionary reasons”.

The administrative investigation subsequently opened did not notice any “malfunction on the organization of the vaccination campaign”, according to the Regional Health Agency.

14% of Parisian students received it

Thanks to the information and communication campaign deployed since September by the National Cancer Institute (INCA), it is possible that the operation “results in an increase in vaccinations” by doctors in offices, however judged the General Directorate of Health.

The city of Paris, where the vaccination rate has reached 14%, intends to take advantage of the second dose, which will be injected in March, to deploy a new communication campaign: “we are going to prepare forms in several languages, from WhatsApp formats to transmitted to groups of parents,” explained Health Assistant (Ecologists) Anne-Claire Boux.

“We saw that the more disadvantaged the families, the lower the membership rate. We must concentrate our efforts on establishments in working-class neighborhoods,” she added.

“The private sector did not play the game,” said Serge Vallet, member of the national executive commission of the CGT private education, regretting that there was no “communication commensurate with the ‘stake “.

Possible adaptations

A more precise estimate of the total number of students vaccinated for the first dose will be made in the first quarter of 2024, and the complete assessment of this first year of the campaign – that is to say the number of vaccinated students having received two doses of the vaccine – will not be known until the end of the school year.

Based on the lessons learned from this assessment, “the authorities will make any possible adaptations” next year, assured the Ministry of Health.

Whether this vaccination takes place at college or in town, the vaccination coverage objective is 80% by 2030, it was reaffirmed.

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