Monday, April 22, 2024

Concerns Over HPV Vaccine Roll Out In Nigeria

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the cause of common dermatologic diseases as well as of various other types of cancers. Globally, it represents the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).

The infection is often naturally cleared by the host immune system within one or two years, otherwise it can persist silently in infected individuals, with varying pathological effects, such as cancer onset and progression.

HPV infections are often transmitted through micro-wounds incurred during sexual intercourse or through other types of skin-to-skin contact, making transmission possible through penetrative and non-penetrative sexual contact.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes different types of cancers, including Cervical Cancer (cc), has been said to be the leading cause of cancer deaths among women warranting the  recommendation of vaccination.

Thus, vaccines against hpv became first available in 2006. Currently there are six licensed hpv vaccines: Three bivalent, two quadrivalent, and one nonavalent. Four of these vaccines are who prequalified

The hpv vaccine was approved for females in 2006 and for males in 2009.

Nigeria recently introduced the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine into its routine immunization system, aiming to reach 7.7 million girls – the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region. Girls aged 9–14 years will receive a single dose of the vaccine.

As part of the immunization process, a five-day mass vaccination campaign in schools and communities will be carried out during the inaugural rollout in 16 states and the federal capital territory. The vaccine will then be incorporated in routine immunization schedules within health facilities, with the second phase of the vaccination introduction set to start in may 2024 in 21 states.

Meanwhile parents and expert are however worried about potential vaccine side effects which have been seen to be life threatening, persistently leading to significant disability or incapacitation and even worse of all, in some cases leading to death.

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, united nations children’s fund (unicef), world health organization (who) and other partners. 

Some parents have already cited concerns about safety for declining to get the HPV vaccine for their kids. With the percentage of parents who declined the HPV Vaccine for their kids due to safety concerns doubling by the day as a result of reports of serious health issues after HPV vaccination consistently surfacing.

Expert have also raised concern about the vaccines, (gardasil 4) being able to only prevent 4 variants of the hpv, with 2 being high risk and other 2 being low risk. Also the manufacturers gavi clearly stated that “we do not protect you from all cervical cancers” Meaning protection is not guaranteed from other hpvs that can cause  cervical cancer, even after getting vaccinated, further raising concerns as to why the vaccine is necessary or made compulsory.

Now another concern that has been raised by parents and stakeholder include question as to if getting the hpv vaccine is the best solution or prevention method from getting infected.

In addition to these concerns are the reports of severe and life threating side effects from those who have recieved the vaccination in other countries, so much so that victims of these adverse vaccine effects have sued the manufacturers and the cases are still in court.

The above concerns then begs the question of why government is pushing for vaccination as opposed to other safer means of preventing HPV, such as sponsoring regular cervical screening exercises and early detection programmes, as in the case of Breast Cancer and other Cancers.

Written by Cleopatra Okohai.

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