Jackie Baillie MSP The official website of Scottish Labour Deputy Leader, Jackie Baillie MSP.
Jackie Baillie has urged the Scottish Government to make cancer prevention a priority after HPV vaccination uptake in West Dunbartonshire has fallen sharply in recent years.
The Dumbarton MSP has urged the SNP government to avoid complacency after lodging Parliamentary Questions earlier this year asking what action the government would be taking to encourage more people to get the vaccine.
In the responses from the government’s Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport, Maree Todd, she cites the move to a single dose which she says should increase the number of people completing their vaccination schedule.
However Ms Baillie remains concerned as data which shows the poor uptake locally takes into account the first dose in S1 only. In S1, the pupils receive their first dose of the HPV vaccine which had been followed up with a second dose the following year until the programme changed in January.
The most recent data shows that uptake of the vaccine in S1 for pupils in West Dunbartonshire has reduced from 91.5 percent in 2019/20 to just 73.4 percent in 2021/22.
Of the 1106 pupils in S1 during 2019/20, just 103 missed out yet 268 of the 1009 eligible pupils in 2021/22 in the region didn’t get their first dose.
Jackie Baillie said: “Under the SNP Government, waiting times for people suspected of having cancer have increased which is potentially leading to poorer outcomes, particularly in areas of high deprivation like West Dunbartonshire.
“Prevention is key when it comes to cancer and making sure that young people benefit from advancements in vaccinations should be capitalised on.
“The SNP have been quick to laud the success of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Scotland, which was not without its flaws, but they also need to focus on immunisations which existed before the pandemic and are effective against other potentially life-threatening conditions.
“Cervical cancer is preventable and one of the most important steps is immunising young people against HPV.
“The new Health Secretary needs to get a grip of this crisis before it gets any worse and health inequalities widen even further.”