First Lady to Girls: Get Vaccinated Against HPV

Nigeria’s First Lady, Oluremi Tinubu yesterday flagged off the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer among girls aged 9-14.

She said cervical cancer remained a common form of the disease that needed to be halted.

The First Lady urged parents to encourage their daughters to get vaccinated.

Senator Tinubu, at an event in Abuja, said regular screenings must be encouraged.

”Girls who are under 18 years of age and sexually active should avail themselves of the opportunity of this vaccine to avoid a future of ill-health and possibly, death.

“The introduction of HPV vaccine into our routine immunisation schedule is a significant step forward in our mission to protect the health and future of our nation’s womenfolk and it will lead to a structured and systematic way of achieving a cervical cancer-free generation,” she said.

Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof Mohammed Ali-Pate, urged parents to ensure that their daughters got vaccinated against cervical cancer

He assured them that the HPV vaccine was safe as it had been tested in other parts of the world with tremendous results.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad III and the President, the Christian Association of Nigeria, ArchiBishop Daniel Okoh, both pledged to sensitise their followers on the need to embrace the vaccine.

They commended the government for introducing the vaccine, which they said would save future generations of Nigerian girls and women.

The vaccination targets over 7million girls, which is the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.

The introduction is the high point of years of campaigns by healthcare experts on why the HPV vaccine is needed to curtail the rising cases of cervical cancer among young females.

Girls aged nine to 14 years will receive a single dose of the vaccine, which is highly efficacious in preventing infection with HPV types 16 and 18 that are known to cause at least 70 per cent of cervical cancers.

In Nigeria, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most frequent cause of cancer deaths among women aged between 15 and 44 years.

The vaccine will be administered by the Federal Ministry of Health, through the platform of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in some states, perhaps, due to a limited number of vaccines procured.

A statement by the World Health Organisation noted that a 5-day mass vaccination campaign in schools and communities would be carried out during the inaugural rollout in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The statement read: “The vaccine will be incorporated into routine immunisation schedules within health facilities. The second phase of the vaccination introduction will start in May 2024 in 21 states.

“The vaccine is being provided for free by the Federal Ministry of Health, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organisation, and other partners.

“With support from the WHO country office in Nigeria and other partners, over 35,000 health workers have so far been trained in preparation for the campaign and subsequent vaccine delivery in all health facilities. Vaccination sites have been established in all 4,163 wards across the 16 states included in the phase one rollout, to ensure no eligible girl is left behind. Mobile vaccination units have also been set up to ensure that remote communities can access the vaccine,”