Review Article

Journal of Public Health

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 291-298

First online:

The introduction of policies for human papillomavirus vaccination in Europe

  • Pierre Van DammeAffiliated withCentre for the Evaluation of Vaccination, (WHO Collaborating Centre), Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Institute, University of Antwerp Email author 
  • , Sergio PecorelliAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Division of Gynaecologic Oncology, University of Brescia
  • , Elmar A. JouraAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Medical University of Vienna

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines represent a major advance in the prevention of cervical cancer and other HPV-related diseases. The availability of HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening creates the unique opportunity to combine primary and secondary prevention of a cancer. HPV vaccination is currently being adopted in Europe at a faster rate than has been seen with most previous vaccines.

Aims and methods

This article analyses the reasons for the rapid and broad access to this cancer prevention measure to illustrate the new sociopolitical environment that drives vaccination policies in the 21st century.


The promise of this intervention to prevent infection by the virus that can cause these diseases in young women created an environment receptive to vaccination. However, it was robust data generated by research specifically targeted to public health needs that have convinced various stakeholders to advocate, license, recommend, and fund vaccination. It was not just the usual host of actors who rallied to this process: early support for decision-making came from experts and scientific societies, patient and women’s groups, and policy makers at the EU and national levels. Implementation now looms as the greatest challenge to vaccine uptake, in particular in the adolescent target group. Determinants of successful implementation include well-informed healthcare professionals who in turn can educate parents and adolescents on the infectious disease, its consequences, and the efficacy and safety of vaccination, and successful provision of equitable access to vaccination. The integration of vaccination and screening must also be carefully managed and adapted to the situation in each country.


Inevitably, the impact of this promising public health intervention will depend upon the continuing engagement of all stakeholders to maintain interest and confidence in vaccination.


HPV Vaccination Immunization policy