Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in South Africa and thus the Western Cape Health and Wellness Department urges parents for consent as they embark on its annual human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine drive.
The HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer and the second dose is being administered to children between September 4 and October 31, at schools across the province.
Girls in Grade 5, over the age of nine who have received the vaccine earlier this year will be able to have their booster doses after the appropriate consent has been obtained, the department said.
During the first round of HPV vaccination in the Western Cape, 1,044 schools were visited and 76% of children were administered their first dose which allows for the opportunity to provide the same number of vaccinations over the second round.
The department said in the Northern and Tygerberg Substructure (NTSS), at least 4,601 (53%) girls were vaccinated.
Sister Rayneze Saayman said the HPV vaccination campaign is dependent on the support of parents and caregivers, and as such, it is necessary consent forms are completed and submitted to the schools prior to the nurses’ visits.
“Consent is needed from parents to make sure they understand the information given regarding the vaccine and to then agree that the vaccine can be provided to their child.
“No vaccine can be provided without your consent. Girls who are not vaccinated are at high risk of contracting the human papilloma virus which the infection could possibly evolve into cervical cancer. Studies have shown that two doses, six months apart, provide better protection,” Saayman said.
The department said cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women aged 15 and 44 in South Africa, with 70% of invasive cancer caused by the HPV serotypes 16 and 18, and it was for this reason it remained committed to eliminating cervical cancer as effectively as it can through nurses and colleagues facilitating the interventions.
“Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus, however, girls can be protected by taking the vaccine as a preventative measure before they are exposed,” Saayman said.
For maximum effectiveness, the vaccine needs to be administered before any sexual activity or intimate contact occurs which means vaccinating as early as the age of nine.
“Ensuring the second dose of HPV vaccination gives your daughter the appropriate defence in prevention of cervical cancer later on in life and gives you peace of mind in knowing your daughter is protected,” Deputy Director in Child’s Health, Sonia Botha said.
Parents are encouraged to complete and return consent forms to schools.
If you have any questions, parents or guardians are urged to speak to the school health nurse or a healthcare worker at your local clinic or family GP.