HPV Vaccine FG vaccination myths merck safe girls
A production issue has caused Merck to distribute less HPV vaccines.

Cervical Cancer: 4.7 million Girls Vaccinated, NPHCDA Says

No fewer than 4.7 million girls have been vaccinated by the Federal Government against the Human Papillomavirus in the first phase of the vaccine rollout in Nigeria.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Muyi Aina disclosed this at the fourth quarter 2023 review meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee on Primary Health Care delivery in Abuja on Monday.

He said, “As of last week, about 4.7 million of our adolescent girls across the 14 states and the FCT in Phase 1 of the rollout have received the vaccine offering them protection against future risk of cervical cancer.

“There was a strong pushback by anti-vaccine campaigners, but with your help, we were able to get accurate information across to our parents, guardians and adolescents.

“The work is not finished, and we count on you, to continue to let our people know that the HPV vaccine is safe and highly effective against cervical cancer, especially as we plan to expand to the rest of the states in the New Year.”

HPV is a viral infection that causes skin or mucous membrane growth. It is the most common sexually transmitted infection. The HPV vaccine prevents infection by certain types of HPV.

According to the World Health Organisation, HPV types 16 and 18 cause at least 70 per cent of cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cervical lesions.

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.

In 2020 – the latest year for which data is available – the country recorded 12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer.

Speaking at the review meeting, the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, urged traditional leaders to leverage the loyalty and respect they enjoy from their people to promote good health practices in their communities.

He said the leaders can assist in breaking the myths associated with vaccines and also re-strategise on ways to reach out to the communities and individuals with information on the efficacy of vaccines.