Boots UK has rolled out its very own cervical cancer vaccination service in 134 of its stores across England and Wales, offering women who are not eligible for the jab on the National Health Service the chance to better protect themselves from the disease.

Only girls aged 12-18 years are currently included in the UK’s national vaccination programme for cervical cancer, but the Boots Pharmacy+ Cervical Cancer Vaccination Service will now give women aged 18-54 access to the jab on the high street, at a total cost of £405.

Despite the cervical cancer national screening programme one in three die from the disease every day, making it the second most common cancer in women aged under 35. But GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine Cervarix, which was chosen by the government for the national immunisation programme over Merck & Co’s rival Gardasil, protects against the two strains of Human Papillomavirus - 16 and 18 - which are responsible for around 70% of cervical cancer cases, and so can significantly reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

Response to the move has been largely positive, with Dr Anne Szarewski, Clinical Consultant at Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, noting that it “extends the availability of the cervical cancer vaccine to a key group of women who will not benefit from the national programme”, and Jane Lyons, Director of The Eve Appeal, stressing that it will not only help save lives and raise awareness of cervical and other gynaecological cancers but also “provides a great opportunity to further stress the importance of the cervical screening programme”.

The service is being provided through a private patient group direction, which basically allows specially trained pharmacists to dish out certain prescription-only medicines to specified groups of patients without individual prescriptions. “Boots pharmacists have undergone comprehensive training – written and agreed by an independent panel of experts – to provide this innovative, patient-led service,” the group said.