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Limited time left for free cervical cancer vaccine

Friday 9 January, 2009

Time is running out for young Victorian women to access the free cervical cancer vaccine, warns Cancer Council Victoria.

Girls and women who have not yet had the vaccine must get in quick, as the Australian Government funded community based catch-up program for females aged 12 to 26 ends on 30 June 2009.

According to the Australian Government, women who wish to access the free vaccine must have their first dose by 30 June 2009, and complete subsequent free doses by 31 December 2009. Women who access the vaccine from July 2009 onwards will have to pay about $450 for all three doses.

Director of Cancer Council Victoria Professor David Hill is urging all eligible females to make an appointment for the vaccine today.

"The vaccine will continue to be administered free-of-charge to girls in Year seven through the school-based National Immunisation Program. After 30 June 2009 the vaccine will no longer be free for schoolgirls from Year 8 who have already been offered the vaccine. As well, free access to the vaccine for women up to the age of 26 will cease from June 30," said Prof Hill.

"In Australia we are lucky to have this vaccine, the world's first cancer vaccine, provided as part of the federally funded National Immunisation Program. I sincerely hope those within the eligible age cohort (women aged 12 to 26) take advantage of this," said Prof Hill.

"Girls and women who have started but not completed the vaccination course are encouraged to do so, as all three doses are necessary to ensure the vaccine is most effective," said Prof Hill.

Twenty-five year-old Carly Sheldon took up the offer of the free vaccine late last year and wants to convince others her age to vaccinate.

"When I found out about the free cervical cancer vaccine I made an appointment with my GP straight away. Three needles sounded like a lot, but it wasn't that bad, especially as they are spread out over a six-month period," she said.

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