Emmanuel Macron has announced a large vaccination campaign against the papillomavirus for 5th graders from the start of the 2023 school year. When will it be implemented, in what form, and how will parents be informed? A school nurse answers us.
Each year in Europe, more than 6,000 new cases of cancer and 30,000 precancerous lesions of the cervix are caused by papillomaviruses. A vaccine does exist, however, recommended for girls between 11 and 14 years old since 2007, and for boys since 2021. But according to the authorities, the vaccination coverage rate remains insufficient in the territory to date: 37% for girls and 9 % for the boys. Faced with this observation, the President himself announced last February a major campaign in the colleges. From the start of the school year, vaccination will be offered to 5th graders, directly on the premises of the establishment.
A campaign in the continuity of active awareness-raising
On the ground, the campaign has already been organized since June and will be refined with the start of the school year. “Awareness-raising actions have been systematically carried out for 5 years already” tells us Valérie Dumas, school nurse in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Actions that so far target not 5th graders, but 6th graders, as soon as they arrive at college:
“Every year, we go to class and inform all 6th graders. We explain to them in detail what the papillomavirus is, the risks of cancer in girls as in boys. During the medical visit, we also check the vaccination status of the students, and whether or not they have received a first injection (which can be done from the age of 10). If this is not the case, we provide the necessary information for students and parents to make an appointment.
Awareness that pays off: in her college in Orthez, Valérie Dumas has more than 50% of students vaccinated at the end of 6th grade… Even if this is not the case everywhere in Europe
What is changing for 5th graders this year?
For 5th graders who would not have had access to the HPV vaccine, the campaign will be slightly more offensive: “What is asked of us is to return students vaccinated or not. And for those who want it, who haven’t taken the time, who haven’t received the information in due time, the vaccination, which until now was reserved for the attending physician, will be offered directly on the college grounds. “.
But it will not be the nurses themselves who will take care of it: “Vaccination centers will travel free of charge during September and October to establishments” informs the nurse.
The 2 injections planned between the ages of 11 and 14 will therefore be offered, within the regulatory interval of 6 months, or simply the second, in the event that the child has already received his first injection this summer for example, but has not not resuming an appointment with his doctor.
As a reminder, the vaccine provides for 2 injections between 11 and 14 years old and 3, if it is done between 15 and 19 years old, all within 6 months.
Will this vaccination be compulsory?
No, the HPV vaccination offered in middle school from September 2023 is not one of the 11 compulsory vaccines in Europe, but it is strongly recommended. However, it will be done on a voluntary basis.
Will the child need permission from their parents?
Yes, according to the government website, “the agreement of both parents will be necessary to carry out this vaccination”. However, for the sake of efficiency, the nurse tells us that depending on the case (an absent parent, a legal dispute over parental authority, etc.), a single authorization could be sufficient to access it. Information to be confirmed this fall.
Where can parents get information?
The campaign could not take place without clear information. The papillomavirus is thus a subject to be discussed in class, with the school nurse, with the attending physician. “As we do not always know if the parents have been able to see the recommendations on the health record, on a personal basis, I transmit in the record and/or on request all the information in my possession on the Gardasil vaccine, the latest information learned via the infectiology services which give us training, and parents are kept informed of the information given to their children as well.“
The modalities in each college will be given after the start of the school year.