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Lucy Barratt had her first cervical screening last year and having the HPV vaccine at school and urges other young women to do the same.

The HPV vaccine is now routinely offered free to girls and boys at secondary school, greatly reducing the risk of getting the various cancers associated with HPV. It has been offered to girls since September 2008, which means Lucy was among the first cohort to receive the vaccine at school.

Lucy had her vaccines starting in 2009 when she was in Year 8. Now 26, she had her first cervical screening appointment in June 2021, four months before her 25th birthday.

She said: “Although I had my HPV vaccines in school, when the letter came through inviting me for my first cervical screening, I booked an appointment straight away at my GP practice. 

I wasn’t worried about the test at all, but the nurse was really nice and explained everything she was going to do, which would definitely help if you were feeling nervous. Plus, the whole thing only took around 10 minutes!”

For anyone like Lucy, who had the vaccine at school and is now eligible for cervical screening, attending their appointment is still necessary because the HPV vaccine does not protect you against all types of HPV. 

She added: “I didn’t hear anything back from my screening, which the nurse advised I wouldn’t be contacted if the result was normal. When my next screening is due, I’ll book and go without hesitation.”

Going for cervical screening when invited can help find high-risk HPV or changes to cervical cells (abnormal cells) early before they develop.

Lucy said: “Some women my age might think that the HPV vaccine is enough but it’s important to still go to your cervical screening when invited. If you catch changes early, it could save your life!”