Encouraging Beginnings: HPV Vaccination in Parisian Schools

The Anne Frank Middle School in the 11th arrondissement is participating, like all other public middle schools, in the HPV vaccination campaign. Nils, a young student at Anne Frank Middle School, has just been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in his school. He was able to do so as part of the vaccination campaign launched at the beginning of the month.

The campaign, which started on October 2nd in Paris, includes all 114 public middle schools in the capital. It will last until December 15th. During this period, students over the age of 12 (with parental permission) can be vaccinated against HPV, which is responsible for over 6,400 cancers each year (cervical cancer, as well as anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile, and oral cancers).

“In my day, we were vaccinated at school,” recalls François Vauglin, the Mayor of the 11th arrondissement, with a smile, who was present at the middle school to witness the vaccination campaign. At Anne Frank Middle School, “the adherence rate is 26%,” says Amélie Verdier, the Director General of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Île-de-France. “So not far from our goal of 30% coverage,” she adds, who does not yet have the vaccination coverage rate for the entire capital.

This is an encouraging number, especially since among the cohort of students who were vaccinated, “55% are boys,” says Farida Pariolleau, the principal of the middle school. This number contrasts with regional statistics. In fact, the regional director of the ARS explains that in Île-de-France, “boys, at the age of 15, are vaccinated at a rate of 11%. And for girls, we are around 35%.”

She attributes this number to the fact that the vaccine was not available to boys before, but also to a “lack of communication” since the expansion of the vaccination to boys in December 2019. To address this issue, information brochures will be distributed to students and their families. Farida Pariolleau would also like to see “communication tools for non-French-speaking families.” Awareness campaigns are also being conducted at the middle school: “I will go back to the 6th grade classes at the end of the year, in June, to inform them about this program,” says Ms. De Carvalho, the school nurse.

For example, Nils had “not heard about [this campaign], or maybe in a documentary on France 2.” The school’s communication was therefore useful to him. The young boy explains that for him, “it is important to be in good health, to be well when we are old.” One of his classmates, who also received the vaccination today, did so after her mother told her about it, “even if I don’t like shots very much,” she jokes.

The HPV vaccination campaign in Parisian middle schools will run from October 2nd until December 15th. Another campaign will be launched in spring 2024. This will allow students who have just been vaccinated to receive their second dose (which should be done 6 months after the first dose), and for those who could not receive the vaccine, to do so. The Rector of the Paris Academy explains that “the 114 public middle schools in the capital are participating in the vaccination campaign.” As for private middle schools (64 in Paris), the program was offered to them. “Six of them volunteered,” says the Rector, who is pleased with the “encouraging” start to the vaccination campaign.

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