Kisumu County is set to introduce the world’s first HPV vaccine to girls of age 10-13 years in October 2019.
The HPV mass vaccination of girls in primary schools is set for the official launch on 2nd October and thereafter the kick-off of to provide girls in schools with free shots of the vaccine against cervical cancer following the disease burden experienced in the county.
Currently, the health department is conducting sensitization and mapping exercise of primary schools who are the targeted group in all the seven Sub Counties.
During the county stakeholder’s engagement forum for malaria vaccine (MVIP) and HPV Vaccine implementation program, it was announced that the mass vaccination will be carried out across the county to target girls in public facilities including hospitals and primary schools.
According to County nursing officer, Jane Raburu confirmed availability of the vaccine and that the side effects are not unique to other vaccines. She also emphasized that health is a right and that the county intends s to carry out HPV vaccination as an intervention to cervical cancer.
Cancer of the cervix is the fourth most common cancer affecting women worldwide and the second most common in lower-income regions. According to WHO HPV is the only cancer that is almost entirely preventable through a safe, effective vaccine and screenings.
The World Health Organization- WHO recommends HPV vaccination for girls. The vaccine is most effective when given early in adolescence between the age of 9 and 14 years – before girls are exposed to the virus.
The standard age target according to WHO is 10-14. However, Kenya has preferred to carry out immunization of girls aged between 10-13 who will be issued with an immunization card to show evidence of vaccination.
“When children aren’t vaccinated at the recommended time, they’re left vulnerable to getting cancer that could be prevented,” says Dr. Florence Akech
Vaccination against cervical cancer is given on time to protect preteens long before exposure to the virus hence the need to offer HPV vaccine by giving two injections at an interval of six to twelve months.