Health workers from the City of Johannesburg’s Department of Health will visit various primary and special schools in Johannesburg to provide the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to girl schoolgirls.
MMC for Health and Social Development, Dr Mpho Phalatse said the campaign, which started in 2014 and is conducted annually, is a joint intervention by the City, the department and the Department of Basic Education to visit 518 schools and reach 30 000 schoolgirls.
The vaccine is administered in a schedule of two doses at six-month intervals, targeting all young girls who are nine years and older.
Phalatse said the first dose will be administered from 7 February to 16 March and the second dose will continue on 7 August until 14 September.
“The purpose of this intervention is to prevent cervical cancer and also protect learners against worm infestations,” Phalatse said.
“80 per cent of sexually active people will get an HPV infection during their life. About 9 000 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed in Southern Africa per year, with an estimated age-standardised incidence rate of 31.5 per 100 000 women.”
She said the high prevalence of HIV infection, late initiation of highly active anti-retroviral therapy, an unscreened population and the high incidence of cervical cancer all suggest that HPV infections and precursors to cervical cancer are both unusually common among Southern African women, and may be on the rise.
“Cervical cancer is the only type of cancer which is 100 per cent preventable,” Phalatse said.
Parents and caregivers will receive consent forms from schools. “No schoolgirl will be vaccinated without parental consent.”
HPV vaccines have gotten a bad rap by some parents who refuse to allow the vaccination for their children.
Phalatse is, however, encouraging all parents and caregivers to sign the consent forms and allow the health workers to administer the vaccine.
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