By Martin Graham
CHLAMYDIA is on the rise among Scottish schoolgirls, and the increase has been blamed on a new jab to prevent cervical cancer.
Figures released by the NHS show that cases of the sexually transmitted disease in girls under 15 have risen by over a third, with doctors treating almost two new cases of the infection every week, mostly girls who fall within the age group offered the jab.
The trend matches the timing of the introduction of the human papillomavirus (HPV) jab for all girls aged between 12 and 17 in September 2008.
The HPV jab vaccinates against the virus which is spred by sexual contac and can lead to cervical cancer.
By April 2009, nearly 94% of second year girls in Scotland had receive the jab.
Eileen McCloy of the group Not With My Child said: “We warned this would happen but we were ignored.
“I don’t believe it is a coincidence that young girls are being given the HPV jab and a year later we are seeing a sharp rise in Chlamydia cases.”
Infection with Chlamydia can lead to infertility in some girls, whilst others may experience more severe consequences such as blindness.
Chlamydia can also cause problems during pregnancy for some women.
The figures released by Health protection Scotland show that the number of cases of Chlamydia among girls was 83 in 2009, up from 61 in 2008.
The vaccine used to treat the schoolgirls is called Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
The company refused to comment on the figures.
Around 30,000 girls per year are offered a course of Cervarix when they reach second year at high school.
Some girls have suffered adverse reactions after receiving the jab, displaying symptoms like nausea, faintness, headaches and flu-like symptoms.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “The rise in Chlamydia cases is a matter of great concern.
“We need research into whether the HPV vaccination programme has been a factor.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “There is no evidence that the immunisation is related in any way to increased sexual activity.”