The Austrian government is launching a new HPV vaccination campaign aimed at teenagers and young adults. The vaccine has been available free of charge in this country since February for young people between the ages of nine and 21. Nearly 80,000 vaccine doses have been administered since then, but Health Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) still sees room for improvement.
The vaccination rate in this age group is around 40 to 50 percent. There is little data on the age groups beyond that, Paul Sevelda, chairman of the Austrian Cancer Aid and doctor, said on Monday. Austria has committed to the World Health Organization (WHO) to achieve an HPV vaccination rate of 90 percent for girls up to 15 years old by 2030.
Viruses can cause cancer
About 80 percent of all men and women would become infected with HPV (human papillomavirus) through skin contact during their lifetime, according to the Minister of Health. Although the infection itself goes unnoticed, it can cause cervical cancer and other cancers such as anal cancer or oropharyngeal cancer. In addition, certain types of HPV also cause genital discomfort. Every year, 6,000 procedures are due to the viruses, according to Sevelda.
The new campaign is mainly aimed at young people aged 14 and over, but also at the legal guardians of younger children. According to Rauch, the goal is to prevent parents from depriving their children of vaccination out of fear or ignorance. From the age of 14, young people in Austria can decide for themselves whether or not to be vaccinated. The government is investing one million euros in the new campaign.
Poster topics are planned in public spaces, in schools and on social networks. There have also been numerous tick vaccination (TBE) campaigns to achieve high vaccination rates, Sevelda said. In a press release, the Socialist Youth (SJ) called for raising the age limit for free vaccination to 30 years.
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