Mass cervical cancer vaccination campaign targets 7.7m girls 

Mass cervical cancer vaccination campaign targets 7.7m girls 

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No fewer than 7.7 million Nigerian girls are expected to be vaccinated against cervical cancer in the first phase of roll out in 15 states and FCT, The Nation learnt.

Already, the country through the support of Gavi and other partners has procured 6million doses for the rollout campaign.

Another batch of 8million doses are expected before the end of December, according to Emily Kobayashi, Head of HOV Programme, Gavi.

Under the new immunisation protocol, girls aged 9-14 will receive a single dose of the vaccine, which is highly effective at preventing infection of HPV types that are known to cause at least 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

At the beginning of the rollout in Abuja and Nasarawa, no fewer than 500 girls were vaccinated with Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Rolling out the vaccination at Junior Secondary School, Asokoro and Primary and Junior Secondary School in Bakin-Ado, Karu, Nassarawa state on Thursday in Abuja, the international NGOs expressed their happiness with the turn out of the pupils and the acceptability of the vaccine by the traditional and religious leaders and parents of the young girls.

The President, Local Government Traditional Council and Esu Karu, Pharm. Luka Panya Baba described the HPV vaccine is a live saving vaccine.

According to him,  “We have discussed extensively with religious leader about it that the benefits is for the community. There are quite a number of countries that have since introduced the vaccine”.

Similarly, the Karu Local Government Chairman, Hon. James Thomas said he his glad that the government and the partners find Karu worthy to benefit from the gesture. He said, he has sensitised his council on the benefits of the HPV vaccine. 

One of the parents, who brought her children for vaccination, Mrs Ene Faustina said as someone who lost her sister to breast cancer she saw the initiative as a precautionary step against cervical cancer. “I heard the sensitization of the vaccine on radio and its importance to her girls, this  informed my decision to allow my girls to get it.  

Mrs Joyce Danladi, the  Vaccinator from the FCT Primary Healthcare Board stated that the board has been sensitizing through various channels against contrary informations about the vaccine  which has helped in the turn out of parents allowing the girls to take the vaccine. 

She  also stated that possible side effects that may arise after taking the vaccine can be by the use of paracetamol after which if it persists such people should contact the vaccinator.

Meanwhile, the Head of HPV Program, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Emily Kabayasi said , she was impressed about the turn out of the children, the cooperation of the Traditional and religious leaders and parents. 

The vaccine, which is very effective in preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, which are known to be responsible for at least 70% of cervical malignancies.

The five-day mass vaccination campaign in schools and communities will be followed with routine immunisation schedules within health facilities.

Over 35,000 health workers have been trained in preparation for the campaign and subsequent vaccine delivery to ensure no eligible girl is left behind.

Mobile vaccination units have also been set up to ensure that more remote communities can be accessed with the vaccine.

The second phase of the vaccination introduction is set to begin in May 2024 in an additional 21 states.

In Nigeria, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most frequent cause of cancer deaths among women aged between 15 and 44.

In 2020 – the latest year for which data is available – the country recorded 12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer.

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