Approximately 69 000 girls from age 9 ÔÇô 13 have benefited from both the 2013 phases one and two of the Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV) vaccine conducted in Kweneng District and Selibe Phikwe, and the 2015 National roll-out.
HPV vaccine can prevent infection from HPV types which are responsible for 70 per cent of cervical cancer worldwide and also protects against types that cause anal and genital warts, the Communications and Public Relations in the Ministry of Health, Doreen Motshegwa revealed in response to questions posed by The Telegraph.
“HPV is known to cause almost all cases of Cervical Cancer which is the leading cause of cancer mortality among women in Botswana. The 9-13 age bracket has been targeted because HPV Vaccination is meant to prevent cervical cancer and is therefore administered before one becomes sexually active as it provides an excellent opportunity to decrease the incidence of cervical cancer over time,” she explained.
She further expounded that there are no plans whatsoever of extending the age bracket. Also, there are no known side-effects of the vaccine; however, one may experience a headache, and feeling nauseated or sweating immediately after injection.
Started in 2013, Motshegwa said, the HPV Vaccination roll out was successfully conducted from the 25th ÔÇô 27th February 2015, achieving coverage of 95.8%. The remaining percentage was not vaccinated either because of non compliance or refusal.
“Some cited reasons of religion, culture or inadequate information about the vaccine. The Ministry of Health has made a decision to extend the HPV Vaccination to school group girls aged 9-13 years in both government and private secondary schools in an effort to vaccinate all the eligible girls. This move will cater for girls who were left out of the National roll-out,” she said.
The second dose will be given after six months, specifically in September 2015.