Lagos vaccinates 484,761 girls against HPV in 3 months

The Lagos State Primary Health Care Board (LSPHCB) says it administered Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to 484,761 girls from October to December 2023.

The Permanent Secretary of LSPHCB, Dr Ibrahim Mustafa, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.

Mustafa noted that the girls were inoculated during the Phase 1 introduction of HPV vaccine through Multi-Age Campaign strategies targeting girls aged nine to 14 years in schools and communities.

According to him, the campaign suffered initial setbacks from misinformation and anti-vaccine campaigners, saying intensive public sensitisation and media advocacy changed behaviour and overcame vaccine hesitancy.

Mustafa stressed that though the national campaign had ended, the HPV vaccines are still available at PHCs for eligible girls.

He appealed to parents to avail their girls opportunity of being inoculated, noting that the vaccine was free and delivers protection against HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer.

HPV is a viral infection that commonly causes skin or mucous membrane growths (warts). It is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).

NAN reports that the Federal Government on Oct. 24, introduced the HPV vaccine into the routine immunisation system to prevent cervical cancer among girls aged nine to 14 years.

The vaccination targets 7.7 million girls, which is the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.

The girls 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.

On Oct. 30, Lagos state introduced HPV vaccines into its routine immunisation programme.

Speaking on efforts to reduce vaccine-preventable diseases, Mustafa said that immunisation was a cost-effective proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening diseases.

“Scaling up immunisation coverage and uptake in Lagos is not just a goal, but critical to eliminating diseases and achieving universal health coverage,” he said.

Mustafa noted that concerted efforts are being implemented to reduce the number of zero-dose children in the state. (Zero-dose are children that have not received any routine vaccine)

He said reducing the number of zero-dose children requires tailoring immunisation services closer to those families and communities that were not being reached.

Mustafa emphasised that the state government was passionate about reaching every individual, communities with quality and accessible healthcare services.

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