The uptake of a vaccine against cervical cancer has fallen from pre-pandemic levels among schoolchildren in the South East, figures show.
In 2019, 75% of Year 9 girls in East Sussex received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
By 2022, that figure had dropped to 62%.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said the decline was “worrying”, with research showing the vaccination can reduce rates of cervical cancer by nearly 90%.
Girls and boys aged between 12 and 14 are offered free HPV jabs at school during Year 8 and 9.
In 2019, 82% of Year 9 girls in Kent and 82% in Surrey received the vaccine. By 2022, these figures had dropped to 76% and 77% respectively.
Head of policy at Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Kate Sanger, said school closures, staff absences and vaccine hesitancy were reasons for the decrease in children opting for the jab.
“It’s really worrying because we have a vaccination that can literally stop cancer from developing,” she said.
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