HEALTH bosses in Barnsley are urging young people and parents to ensure they get the HPV vaccine - which protects against a range of cancers - after new figures revealed that the uptake is still well below pre-pandemic levels.

The human papillomavirus vaccine helps protect against a range of cancers, including cervical, head and neck, anal and genital cancers, which can affect everyone.

It is offered to all 12 to 13 year-olds in schools and community clinics, but parents are required to give consent for their child to receive the jab from NHS nurses.

Data from the UK Health Security Agency shows 74.4 per cent of year nine girls in Barnsley had both HPV jabs in the 2022/23 academic year.

It means 344 of the 1,343 girls in the cohort were not fully vaccinated.

The jab rate was down on 78.9 per cent the year before and significantly below the 90.8 per cent coverage in 2018/19, before the pandemic.

Some girls were given the second shot in year 10 due to the impact of school closures the programme - 81.6 per cent of this cohort across Barnsley had both jabs.

Last year, the NHS pledged to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040 for the first time ever, which could save thousands of lives every year in England, but this relies on as many young people as possible getting the lifesaving HPV vaccination and increasing cervical screening uptake.

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Steve Russell, national director for vaccinations and screening for NHS England, said: “The successful HPV vaccination programme already helps save thousands of lives, but through increasing uptake in young people alongside boosting the numbers coming forward for cervical screening, the NHS in England hopes to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040.

“With just one dose now offering full protection to under 25s, it is easier than ever to ensure your child is fully protected - so please do check your child’s vaccination status and consent for them to get vaccinated if they aren’t up to date - vaccination saves lives.”