ALMOST 700 students in Glasgow have signed up for a vaccine which is helping to eliminate cervical cancer.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is holding human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination clinics in universities over the next few weeks for those who missed out on the jab at school.

The HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer and genital warts, as well as certain head and neck cancers, anal and genital cancers.

The clinics will be held at the University of the West of Scotland, the University of Glasgow, Strathclyde University and Glasgow Caledonian University starting today (January 23).

It comes after Public Health Scotland announced NO cervical cancer cases have been detected in fully vaccinated women since the HPV immunisation programme began in Scotland in 2008.

The Glasgow Times is running a Don’t Fear the Smear campaign, which aims to encourage more women to attend their cervical screening appointment. This week (January 22 to 28) is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

Glasgow Times: Jane BeresfordJane Beresford (Image: Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS)

Jane Beresford, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s public health immunisations programme manager, said: “Students come to Glasgow from all over the world, and the vaccine may not have been offered to them in their home countries.

“We’re also keen to see people who missed having the vaccine at school. Already, around 600-700 students have signed up, which is very encouraging.”

She adds: “The HPV vaccine has been shown to be effective in protecting people from a range of cancers.

“Attending these clinics is a straightforward process, and alongside the HPV vaccine, we will also be offering MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccines and meningitis vaccines.

“Like any vaccinations, there can be mild side effects, such as a slightly sore arm and some redness, and perhaps a headache or mild fever which can be treated with paracetamol. Severe side effects are very rare.”

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HPV infection is the cause of most cervical cancers, and having both the HPV vaccine and regular routine cervical screening will dramatically reduce the number of people with cervical cancer in Scotland.

Glasgow Times: Don't Fear the SmearDon't Fear the Smear (Image: Newsquest)

A person can become infected with HPV through any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area, through vaginal, anal or oral sex, and through sharing sex toys.

Dr Emilia Crighton, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s director of public health, said: “We are pleased to be taking our HPV immunisation programme into universities in our area.

“I would like to ask students who missed or did not receive the vaccine while they were at school to attend the clinics to get immunised.”

HPV immunisation is offered to all secondary school children aged 12 and 13 as it is most effective if given before a person is sexually active.

Anyone up to the age of 25 who is not a student at university, and has not yet been vaccinated against HPV, can ask their GP to refer them through the Scottish Care Information Gateway to receive the immunisation.

For more information about the HPV vaccine, visit the NHS Inform website.