GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - This year marks the sixth one of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) campaign, against which nearly two million girls in South Africa have already received the vaccine.
School nurses in the Garden Route are ready to visit all public schools between 11 February and 20 March to administer the vaccine to girls nine years and older in Grade 5, as well as the tetanus vaccine for both girls and boys.
The Western Cape Department of Health encourage parents and carers to support the immunisation campaign against HPV, which causes cervical cancer, as well as an injection to protect children against tetanus and diphtheria. This service is rendered free of charge.
It is vital
The HPV causes cervical cancer.
This virus causes up to 99% of all cervical cancers, and one out of every 26 women in South Africa get cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is often not detected early enough and claims many lives.
Rhona Irving, school health nurse, has vaccinated many children during her career. “It remains a pleasure for me to privde a service to our children, or future. It also saddens me when children don’t return the necessary consent from home for vaccinations, when I know what an important role it plays in their health,” said Irving.
The HPV vaccine is safe and a precaution against cervical cancer. When the vaccine is administered at this young age, the body can build up a strong resistance against the virus.
Every girl gets two injections, five to six months apart. In previous campaigns it was administered to Gr 4 girls who are nine years old or older, but it is adjusted to Gr 5 girls to include more girls whose birthday is later in the year.
More than 1 000 schools reached in 2019
Health workers from the Western Cape Government Health visited 1 112 shcools in 2019, and 85% of all who were the suitable age and who gave consent for the vaccine received the first dosage.
This year’s campaign is even more comprehensive by health workers who also give the supplement against tetanus and diphtheria to girls and boys in Grade 5 who are 10 years old and whose parents or carers gave consent. Tetanus and diphtheria are both serious infections which can be deadly.
Vaccines and supplements are both administered by qualified professional nurses through an upper arm injection. The area where the injection is given may be sensitive after a while, but there are no other side effects.
Vaccines and supplements can only be administered if parents or carers give consent. It is important that parents or carers sign the consent form and return it to the school before the campaign starts.
For more information about the HPV campaign, click here.
'We bring you the latest Garden Route news'