There was a significant turnout of eligible girls in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the ongoing Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination. Many girls voluntarily came forward to receive the vaccination,
while some whose schools were not designated as vaccination sites were accompanied by their mothers who waited for their children to be vaccinated before taking them back home.
Last week, Nigeria introduced the HPV vaccine into its regular immunization system with the support of First Lady Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who launched a national roll-out at the Presidential Villa.
During a field visit to witness a vaccination exercise at Junior Secondary School in Asokoro, Abuja, the Gavi Alliance team and a group of journalists were informed by the School Principal, Izzi Jaafaru Madaki, that the school management had effectively communicated with parents about the necessity of allowing their children to receive the vaccine as a means of protecting them against cervical cancer.
Madaki emphasized that approximately 100 schoolgirls had obtained parental consent to receive the HPV vaccine. He stated, “We have thoroughly educated them about the significance of the vaccine and encouraged them to seek approval before proceeding with the vaccination.
The majority of parents granted approval for their children to receive the vaccine today. It is important to highlight that receiving the vaccine is not mandatory, but it holds great importance. By administering this vaccine to our children, we are taking proactive measures to prevent cervical cancer, which is prevalent in our country. It is imperative that we take action to combat this disease.”
The Federal Government introduced the HPV vaccine into the routine immunization system last Tuesday to prevent cervical cancer among girls.
Also speaking, Head of the HPV Programme, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Emily Kobayashi, expressed satisfaction with the turnout of eligible girls and the support shown parents, traditional and religious leaders who came out to witness the exercise At another vaccination site located at Government Secondary School, Bakin-Ado, Karu, Nasarawa State, one of the parents, Mrs. Ene Faustina, who accompanied her children to the vaccination, told journalists that she decided to make out time and bring them after hearing about the vaccine and the importance.
She said, “I have lost someone to breast cancer and this is a great privilege for me. So, I had to bring my children for the vaccination,”
Also speaking, the Esu of Karu and the Chairman of the Karu Local Government Traditional Council in Nasarawa State, Luka Panya Baba, said that there was extensive discussion between the traditional and religious leaders about the vaccine and its benefits adding that they have no doubt about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
He said, “What we are witnessing today will help our girls now and in the future. We appreciate Gavi. The Northern Traditional leaders will ensure that we mobilize our young girls to take the vaccine because the benefit is for all of us. We have no doubt about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. There are quite a number of countries that have since introduced the vaccine.
“There are a lots of countries in Africa that have introduced the vaccine into their routine immunization. We hope in the future, countries will make reference to Nigeria about the success of the HPV vaccine”, he added.
HPV vaccine which costs over $4 per dose is being provided for free by the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF, WHO and other partners.
The vaccination exercise which targets about 7.7 million girls between ages nine and 14, is largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.
In Nigeria, cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer among women between the ages of 15 and 44 and the third most common cancer overall. In 2020, Nigeria recorded 12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer.