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Health Ministry reduces HPV Vaccine Dose for

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Health Ministry reduces HPV Vaccine Dose for

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The Ministry of Health in collaboration with its partners is planning to switch from double HPV vaccine dose to single dose and from single age cohort of 10 years old girls to Multiple-Age Cohorts (MAC) vaccination of eligible girls (10-18).

This was revealed at a 5 day stakeholders meeting held in Makeni last week. You may aware that, the Ministry of Health in October 2022 introduced HPV vaccine into the routine immunization system in the form of a vaccination roll-out campaign targeting girls 10 years of age.

During the campaign roll-out, the first dose of HPV vaccine was administered to over 500,000 eligible girls who could have also taken their second dose after 6 months from the time of the first administered dose.

However, this has changed with the new arrangement; switching from double HPV vaccine dose to single vaccine and from single age cohort (10 years) to Multi-Age Cohorts (10-18 years).

Pointing out the reason for the switch, Dr. Desmond Maada Kangabia, Child Health and Expanded Programme on Immunization (CH-EPI) said that with further research and evidence gathered by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health professional bodies on the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccine have shown that just one dose of the HPV vaccine can provide life-long protection against cervical cancer for girls when given at the right age cohort.

Dr. Kangbai continued that the switch it cost effective as it makes it possible to provide for more girls. “Just imagine the HPV vaccine was introduced with the hope of given 2 doses to a girl and now with the switch, 2 doses can be given to 2 eligible girls instead of 2 vaccine doses per girl, you see how more girls would benefit from the lifesaving vaccine’’. Dr. Kangbai stressed.

Talking about future vaccination plan, Dr. Kangbai said that with the switch to single dose and Multiple-Aage Cohorts, they are planning for a nationwide HPV vaccination roll-out campaign sometime next year in which girls 10-18 both in and out of schools will be vaccinated against Cervical Cancer.

He reiterated that cervical cancer is the second cause of deaths in women in Sierra Leone after breast cancer. Emphasizing the severity of Cervical Cancer, Dr. Kangbai referenced that according to the Sierra Leone Cancer Registry the country records 515 new cervical cancer cases and 372 deaths each year, adding that this data may not be accurate because of underreporting they however relied on it for planning.

Talking on prevention, he assured that vaccination of girls at an early age is the most effective as it prevents them of cervical cancer later in life, adding that cervical cancer is a serious disease that affects women and they shy to talk about it because of stigma which can lead to psychological issues.

“So, prevention through vaccination for girls is key and he also encouraged older women to go for cervical cancer screening as it can also help to prevent and lay the foundation for treatment all of which are part of the elimination strategy for cervical cancer in Sierra Leone’’. Dr. Kangbai added.

 

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