Introduction: Cervical screening has helped decrease the incidence of cervical cancer, but the disease remains a burden for women. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is now a promising tool for control of cervical cancer. Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) are relatively wealthy with predominantly publicly paid health care systems. The aim of this paper was to provide an update of the current status of introduction of HPV vaccine into the childhood vaccination programs in this region.
Methods: Data on cervical cancer, cervical screening programs, childhood immunization and HPV vaccination programs for Nordic countries were searched via PubMed and various organizations. We furthermore contacted selected experts for information.
Results: The incidence of cervical cancer is highest in Greenland (25 per 100,000, age standardized, World Standard Population, ASW) and lowest in Finland (4 per 100,000 ASW) and rates in the other Nordic countries vary between 7 and 11 per 100,000 ASW. Greenland and Denmark were first to introduce HPV vaccination, followed by Norway. Vaccination programs are underway in Sweden and Iceland, while Finland has just recently recommended introduction of vaccination. HPV vaccination has been intensively debated, in particular in Denmark and Norway.
Discussion: In Nordic countries with a moderate risk of cervical cancer and a publicly paid health care system, the introduction of HPV vaccination was a priority issue. Many players became active, from the general public to health professionals, special interest groups, and the vaccine manufacturers. These seemed to prioritize different health care needs and weighed differently the uncertainty about the long-term effects of the vaccine.
Conclusion: HPV vaccination posed a pressure on public health authorities to consider the evidence for and against it, and on politicians to weigh the wish for cervical cancer protection against other pertinent health issues.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.