Over 3.9 million girls aged between 9 and 14 years in Nigeria have been vaccinated with the Human Papilloma Virus, HPV, vaccine against cervical cancer since the rollout of the vaccination exercise by the Federal government in October.
The Federal government recently introduced the HPV vaccine into its routine immunisation system, aiming to reach 7.7 million girls in the targeted age group with a single dose of the vaccine.
Disclosing this during a virtual discourse themed “Cervical Cancer and HPV vaccination: Matters Arising” , the Ag. Director of Disease Control and Immunisation, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr. Garba Rufai, said no serious adverse events had been recorded among those vaccinated.
Rufai, who represented the Executive Director/ CEO of the NPHCDA, Dr Muyi Aina, in his presentation entitled, “The Role of the NPHCDA in Mitigating the Challenges and Bottlenecks around Vaccines and Mass Vaccination Programmes in Nigeria,” said the vaccines were being well received despite concerns raised in certain quarters.
“We have been able to start in 12 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT and we still have three states that we are yet to commence. In some of these states, they are almost running out of vaccines, because they are being accepted in huge numbers.
“From these 12 states, we have almost vaccinated four million young girls, we are around 3.9 million plus and by the end of today (Friday), we might be crossing the four million mark. By the time Kano state starts, we would close out close to five million.
“In all of these numbers, we have not seen one serious Adverse Event Following Immunisation, AEFI, not one. It is remarkable being able to put about four million needles into people and none of the side effects, not even the early ones that we normally see have not happened.”
Rufai who said there were initial gaps in information communication about the vaccine, however, affirmed that the government was up to the task of ensuring that the exercise was successful.
“Introducing a vaccine is a process, there are activities lined up. We are building capacity and reminding ourselves about what vaccines are what they do and their possible adverse side effects, so vaccine safety monitoring by the NPHCDA and NAFDAC is ongoing.
“It is a country introduction, and there is a monitoring and surveillance system in place not just for the HPV but for polio, measles, and the pentavalent vaccines,’ he stated.
A Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Prof Rose Anorlu, said that the purpose of the vaccination was to prevent and
In her presentation “Cervical Cancer: The Right Communication for Prevention”, she emphasised that cervical cancer screening has been shown to reduce the rate of the disease.
Anorlu, who heads the Oncology & Pathological Studies, at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, argued that cervical cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer globally, even as she stressed that the HPV vaccine was the primary prevention for the disease.
“Mathematical model shows that the vaccine can last up to 20 years without a booster dose. A single dose is equally as effective as two or three doses, but it is not yet known if the vaccine can give lifetime protection.
“Awareness of a disease is key in the prevention. It is right to say cervical cancer screening than screening for cervical cancer. They do not mean the same thing. Cervical cancer screening is to detect the pre-cancer of the cervix.
“Screening is not for detection of invasive cervical cancer, it is for the detection of the pre-cancer of the…