Page last updated at 08:59 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 09:59 UK

High NI uptake of cancer vaccine

Cervical cancer cells

The health minister has praised the high uptake of the cervical cancer vaccine in Northern Ireland.

Since the vaccination programme was introduced in 2008, 89% of Year 9 girls received the first dose, with 85% and 83% receiving the second and third.

About 40 women die from cervical cancer in Northern Ireland every year.

"I would ask all parents to continue to support the programme and to give consent for their daughters to have the vaccine," said Michael McGimpsey.

"I welcome the fact that the Northern Ireland uptake for the vaccination is extremely high, which means 12 and 13 year old girls and their parents, realise the importance of this vaccination in the fight against cervical cancer."

The human papillomavirus (HPV), is found in most women who have developed cervical cancer.

It is spread from one person to another during sexual activity.

There are over 100 types of HPV but only 13 of these are known to cause cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccine will protect against types 16 and 18 which are the two most common types causing cervical cancer.

However the vaccine will not protect against the remaining cancer causing types, and the Department of Health said those who have been vaccinated should continue to go for routine cervical screening.

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