Safely Vaccinate against HPV

Statistics show that one in every eight women that die in South Africa, die from complications as a result of Cancer of the Cervix. Simply translated, this indicates that if your daughter attends a party with seven other little girls, one of them may die as a result of Cancer of the Cervix. Almost 80% of cervical cancers are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). During the last few years vaccination against HPV infection has become available. Due to the high prevalence of HPV related cervical cancers in South Africa, it has been decided to make this vaccination available free of charge to all Grade 4 girls who are 9 years and older.

This is a National Campaign that was intended to start on 17 February 2013, however please note that the dates have shifted to:

Round 1:  10 March – 11 April 2014.

Round 2: 29 September – 31 October 2014. 

The vaccination is administered by injection, in two doses which are 6 months apart. This is why there will be two rounds. Girls need to receive both injections to ensure effectiveness.

Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, supports the campaign and says: “The statistics show that too many of our young women die of cervical cancer. Here we have a vaccination to combat this disease. I encourage all parents and caregivers of young girls to inform and educate themselves about the vaccine and the campaign. Together, we can ensure that our daughters have a bright and healthy future.”

As with all vaccines, it remains the parents’ choice whether or not to have their child vaccinated. It is however of vital importance that parents/caregivers and teachers play their role in this campaign as only those girls, who have written consent from their parents/care givers, will be vaccinated and can thus be offered this chance of avoiding HPV infection that can lead to Cancer of the Cervix later in life. 

The consent form will only be given to those parents whose girls are eligible for the vaccine. These are: (1) A girl in Grade 4. (2) Will be nine (9) years or older, at the start of the campaign. (3) Attends a public or specialised education school. (4). Has a signed consent form.

Parents whose daughters do not fall into the above category, but who wish to vaccinate, can visit their pharmacist or family doctor, however you will need to pay for the vaccine.

Vaccination remains one of the most effective manners in which to prevent illnesses in our children. Western Cape Government Health already offers many vaccinations that help keep your child healthy. Protection against HPV is the same as these vaccinations; you are protecting your daughter’s future health. As is the case with all new medications, people ask many questions, one of which is the question around the safety of the HPV vaccine, published analysis regarding the safety of HPV vaccines provides evidence that autoimmune conditions, neurological diseases, and thromboembolic disease are not triggered by the HPV vaccination. South Africa will be using the vaccine Cervarix®, which has proven effective and has minimal, if any side effects. 

Other factors to consider:

· With Cervarix® there were no adverse reactions attributable to the vaccine serum during trials

· There has been a decrease of 70% of Cervical Cancer in one of the communities that received routine HPV vaccination in the USA

· It is often so that the adverse effects reported are due to mis-administration – i.e.: Fainting, because the girl does not sit for 10 minutes after the injections; inflammation of the site due to rubbing; nervous reactions due to fear of injections.

· There is no ingredient in the vaccine that can affect: Fertility; menstruation; hormonal activity.

· Western Cape Government Health staff who will be administering the injections have received training specifically in how to manage adverse  effects during and after the campaign. Patient safety is our priority.