Vaccination of 5th grade middle school students deemed “disappointing” by specialists

The vaccination of 5th grade middle school students against the papillomavirus, launched in the fall, is far from expectations, with a “disappointing” first overview, officials of the French Society of Colposcopy and Cervicovaginal Pathology (SFCPCV) regretted on Thursday.

“We are starting to have the first figures, but not yet for all of France. It is estimated that around 10 to 15% of 5th grade middle school students were vaccinated with a first dose – the second injection will be given before the end of June -,” declared Professor Xavier Carcopino, president of the SFCPCV and head of the gynecological surgery department. at the northern hospital of Marseille.

10 to 15% vaccination rate, far from the 30% hoped for

“This first return is disappointing: we were hoping for around 30%, we are far from it. We can improve.” While the objective was “fairly moderate”, “we would expect better”, said Geoffroy Canlorbe, general secretary of the SFCPCV.

In the Grand-Est region, which nevertheless appeared as a “good student” after an experiment lasting several years, 7,486 5th grade students received a first injection, while the objective was 19,311, according to recent data from the Regional health agency revealed by this practitioner to the AP-HP.

Some adolescents can also be vaccinated outside of college by general practitioners, pediatricians, or even pharmacists.

“Communicate more and better”

Promised at the start of 2023 by President Emmanuel Macron, the vaccination campaign for middle school students in 5th grade against human papillomaviruses, the cause of numerous cancers (cervical, ENT, etc.), started from the beginning october. All public colleges are concerned, with voluntary private establishments able to participate.

At least 30% of the 5th year vaccinated at college, “I think we won’t be there,” Aurélien Rousseau, then Minister of Health, admitted to AFP at the beginning of November, while hoping for some 150,000 vaccinated at college in end of the school year (out of approximately 800,000 public and private secondary school students under contract). “It’s a start, it will take tenacity,” he said, referring to heterogeneity between regions and between families as well as a need to “adapt the tools”.

For the SFCPCV, the campaign suffered, among other things, from an administrative organization that was “a bit heavy and complicated”. “We also need to communicate more and better on the importance of vaccinating young adolescents with a safe and very effective vaccine” to “make cervical cancer a disease of the past in the future”, according to Professor Carcopino .

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