Mark McGuinness, Rhianne Oakley, Kion Etete

Bluebirds team up with Cardiff and Vale UHB for HPV vaccine campaign

Cardiff City FC Community Foundation has teamed up with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to promote the importance of a vaccine that offers vital protection against several types of cancer.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is offered for free to all children aged 12 and 13 in Year 8 of secondary school. It has proved highly effective at reducing the risk of getting HPV, a group of more than 100 viruses that are usually passed on through skin-to-skin contact. 

Most people who become infected with HPV will clear the virus from their body and won’t become unwell, but for others it can cause genital warts or even develop into some types of cancer including cervical cancer in women and head and neck cancers that are most common in men. 

HPV usually has no symptoms, which is why it is so easy to pass on. More than 70% of people who haven’t had the HPV vaccine will get HPV at some point in their life. 

But to date the vaccine has proved very effective. Since it was introduced in 2008, it has reduced cervical cancer rates by almost 90% in women in their 20s. 

Every spring, Cardiff and Vale UHB’s School Nursing Immunisation Team visits schools across the region to administer the HPV vaccine to Year 8s, along with those in Year 9, 10 and 11 who missed put in Year 8. The full list of dates can be found here.

To help promote the importance of the vaccine, players from Cardiff City FC were on hand to help create a short promotional video which will be shared widely on social media and other channels. 

Forward Kion Etete and defender Mark McGuinness were among those to contribute to the video from the First Team, as well as striker Rhianne Oakley from the Women’s team. 

Claire Beynon, Executive Director of Public Health at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: “It’s fantastic to work in partnership with Cardiff City FC and the Cardiff City Foundation to promote such an important public health message. It is expected that the vaccine will eventually save thousands of lives each year across the UK.”

Zac Lyndon-Jones, Head of Community and Development at Cardiff City FC Community Foundation, said: “Cardiff City FC Community Foundation proudly supports the vital campaign for the HPV vaccine in partnership with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. 

“Through our men's and women's first teams, we aim to break the stigma surrounding the vaccine and leverage the club's assets to enhance its uptake in schools in Cardiff City FC communities. Our goal is to use our voice and influence to share vital health messages like this, and to change lives and transform communities.”

Esyllt Kelly and Diana Owen, from the Cardiff and Vale School Nursing Immunisation Team, collaborated on the project and were on hand to offer expert advice to all those involved in the video’s production. 

“The HPV vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective at protecting against HPV and reducing HPV infections, and it’s administered by our nursing immunisation professionals in one quick injection in the upper arm,” explained Diana.

“HPV vaccination is most effective in people who have not been exposed to HPV which is why it’s recommended to vaccinate children at the age of 11-13. By adulthood most people will have been exposed to HPV, so vaccination won’t be as effective.”

Young people who miss out on their vaccine in Year 8 at school will be given the opportunity to receive it before they leave statutory schooling at the end of Year 11. For those who can’t receive it at school, there will be community catch-up clinics across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

As with any other vaccine, there are often some mild side-effects including a sore arm or headache that go away very quickly.

For more information on the HPV vaccine, please go to Public Health Wales’ website here.