Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer among women aged 15 to 44 however, the risk of your child having the disease can be reduced by getting the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
The Western Cape Health Department from September 6 to October 29 will be doing an HPV vaccination drive at schools targeting girls in Grade 5.
According to the department, about 70% of all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV serotypes 16 and 18. The vaccine can also protect against HPV infection which can only be reduced if herd immunity is achieved.
“Many parents and caregivers may question whether they still need to get their daughters vaccinated. The department wants to assure them that the HPV vaccine is safe, effective and free. As with all vaccines, some recipients may experience bruising or redness at the vaccination site. The nurses administering the vaccine are also strictly adhering to the Covid-19 protective measures when they visit schools,” the health department said in a statement.
Grade 5 girls will be given consent forms by the school. Only learners with signed consent forms will be vaccinated.
Sister Bongeka Magongoma is based at Nomzamo CDC.
“It makes me feel important and good that am part of their future health. I always tell them that the HPV vaccine is a life-saving medicine that is produced specifically to prevent diseases. This, together with a good lifestyle, will ensure a healthy future without cancer of the cervix. Side-effects from vaccines are rare but if they do happen, I will be there to assist the recipient,” said Magongoma.
Before Sister Fiona Wiid, a nurse in the Drakenstein sub-district administers the HPV vaccine, she calms the girls and explains the importance of it, as well as the possible side-effects, such as tenderness around the injection site.
She said: “I listen to questions and fears and answer them calmly on the learner's level of knowledge. Because of nerves, I introduce myself, explain the procedure to them and do an ‘ice breaker’, for example, we sing a song together, count to five or ask easy maths sums while I inject them.”