Our children’s futures: Protect our girls from cervical cancer | Western Cape Government


Our children’s futures: Protect our girls from cervical cancer

4 September 2023

Our children’s futures depend on our choices today: Protect our girls from cervical cancer

Parenting is considered one of the toughest jobs in the world. The good news is that help is available and there are many ways we can protect our little ones and their futures. From taking care of ourselves during pregnancy to ensuring that our little ones are vaccinated against diseases, there are many things we can do to ensure that they grow up healthy and strong.

This is why our nurses routinely visit schools to ensure every child is healthy and immunised to protect their health.  Between 4 September and 31 October 2023, we will administer the second round of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine which prevents cervical cancer.

Girls in Grade 5, over the age of 9, who have received the vaccine earlier this year will be able to have their booster doses after the appropriate parental consent has been obtained.

During the first-round of HPV vaccination in our province, a total of 1,044 schools were visited and 76% of the children received their 1st dose, which allows us the opportunity to provide the same number of vaccinations over the second round.

In the Northern and Tygerberg Substructure (NTSS), at least 4 601 (53% of our population) girls were vaccinated. NTSS school health nursing coordinator, Sr Rayneze Saayman, says the HPV vaccination campaign is dependent on the support of parents and caregivers and, as such, it is necessary that the consent forms completed and submitted to the schools prior to the nurses’ visits.

“Consent is needed from parents to make sure they understand the information given regarding the vaccine and to then agree that the vaccine can be provided to their child. No vaccine can be provided without your consent. Girls who are not vaccinated are at high risk of contracting the Human Papilloma virus of which the infection could possibly evolve to cervical cancer. Studies have shown that two doses, six months apart, provide better protection.”

Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths amongst women aged 15 to 44 years in South Africa with about 70% of invasive cancers caused by the HPV serotypes 16 and 18. This is why we remain committed in eliminating cervical cancer as effectively as we can through nurses and colleagues who are equally as important in facilitating the intervention through their contributions. “Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by Human Papilloma virus, however girls can be protected by taking the vaccine as a preventative measure before they are exposed,” says Sr Saayman.

To obtain maximum effectiveness, the vaccine needs to be administered before any sexual activity or intimate contact occurs, which means vaccinating as early as the age of 9.  “Ensuring the second dose of HPV vaccination gives your daughter the appropriate defense in prevention of cervical cancer later on in life and give you peace of mind in knowing your daughter is protected,” says Sonia Botha, Deputy Director in Child’s Health.

We encourage all parents to return the consent forms. If you have any questions, please speak to your school health nurse, la healthcare worker at your local clinic or family GP. The HPV campaign brings hope to us all for a world free from cervical cancer, and HPV infection can be reduced if herd immunity is achieved using the vaccine. Let’s protect our girls today!