HPV vaccination to tackle cervical cancer
As we commemorate World Cancer Day today (4 February 2019), Western Cape Government Health teams will visit all Grade 4 girls who are nine years old and attending public schools from 5 February until 15 March to administer the first dose of the vaccine that prevents Human Papilloma-virus (HPV) related cervical cancer.
Vaccination is safe and a preventative precaution; in other words, just like eating healthily to prevent the health issues that come with obesity, so too vaccination is a very effective way of preventing illnesses that not only cause great discomfort, but can lead to death.
Since the start of the HPV-immunisation programme in 2014, the Western Cape has managed to underpin the objectives of the HPV campaign by achieving and maintaining cover well above 80% of girls and schools in the province. In 2014, the Department’s staff visited 1 082 schools across the province and in 2018 they visited 1 105.
These visits enabled the Department to vaccinated 33 783 girls (first round, first dose) and 32 048 (second round, second dose) in 2014 and 41 604 (first round, first dose) and 48 855 (second round, second dose) in 2018.
The HPV Vaccine is administered by a qualified professional nurse by injection to the upper arm, besides a little bit of tenderness at the site of the injection there are no other side effects. The lack of signed and returned consent forms from parents and caregivers allowing us to administer vaccinations and/or do general health assessments of school going children remain one of the biggest challenges that Western Cape School Health nurses experience in the field. We can only offer health services to a child with the parents’/guardians’ signed permission.
Allowing a child to be vaccinated as part of the school health programme, makes it a lot easier for you as a parent; as parents/guardians need not take any other time or stay out of work to take their child to the clinic or GP for their vaccines.
For more information please visit our web page www.westerncape.gov.za
Facts about cancer of the cervix in South Africa:
- HPV is a viral infection that can cause cervical cancer. This vaccination prevents the infection of HPV in girls.
- Cancer of the cervix is the second most prevalent cancer in women in South Africa.
- Cervical Cancer is a leading cause of death among women
- There are over 80 strains of HPV, some of these are harmless, such as the strains that cause warts on the hands and knees of children.
- HPV is 100% responsible for cervical cancer – the most virulent strains of HPV are Types 16 and 18, which accounts 70% of all cervical cancers.
- Although HPV is contracted through sex; it is possible to contract HPV even if your only have one sexual partner.
- Ceravix® is the vaccination that will be used. It needs to be administered twice with a six-month interval between dosages.
- Girls must receive BOTH dosages to ensure affectivity. The vaccine is most effective if administered at 9 years of age. There are almost no or only very mild side effects.
Leensie (Streicher) Lötter
Western Cape Government: Health
Tel: 022 487 9213
Mobile: 072 224 7376