Sweden will offer vaccines against cervical cancer to all primary school girls as part of the country's free vaccination programme, the National Board of Health and Welfare said Monday. "Starting on January 1, 2010, the school healthcare system must offer HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines to girls in the fifth and sixth grade (around 10-11 years old)," it wrote in a statement.
HPV is a common virus spread through sexual contact. The vaccine prevents the most common types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer.
"In the long run, this means that around 100 women a year will be spared from dying of cervical cancer" in Sweden, the board said.
The new vaccination programme will cost the Swedish state about 400 million kronor (38.3 million euros, 48.3 million dollars) a year, Swedish public radio reported Monday.
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) some 500,000 cases of cervical cancer are discovered each year. If left untreated, invasive cervical cancer is almost always fatal.