THE age limits for girls receiving the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has been reviewed upwards so as to accommodate more girls during this year’s campaign starting next week.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This year’s campaign will cover Grade 5 female pupils, 10 year olds out of school up to 15 year old teens. In the past they were looking at girls aged 14 and below and this time around it is the second and final dose for full protection from HPV.
“Following the successful introduction of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for girls aged 10 years through a demonstration project in Beitbridge and Marondera districts in 2014 to 2016, the nationwide roll-out in May 2018 saw almost 900 000 girls aged 10 to 14 years get the vaccine.
“This multi-age cohort of girls are now due for their second and final dose for full protection from HPV, while a new group of all grade five girls in school and 10 year old girls out of school will be enrolled to receive their first dose.
“We will also encourage those girls aged 10 to 15 both in and out of school who were missed in 2018 for their first dose to come forth for vaccination,” said Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima.
The campaign starts next Monday.
“As from Monday 27 to 31 May all schools, health facilities and some outreach points will vaccinate all girls aged 10 to 15 years. While most will be getting their second dose, all Grade 5 girls and those who missed last year will be vaccinated for the first time.
“We urge all parents, guardians, teachers, churches and communities to rally behind the Ministries of Health and Education and encourage all eligible girls to receive this life saving vaccine. After the campaign week, all health facilities will keep the vaccine for those not available next week,” the minister added.
Health Ministry Epidemiology and Disease Control Director Dr Portia Manangazira is hopeful one million girls will receive the vaccine.
“It gives me great pleasure to be standing here in front of you where we are launching the HPV campaign. I think this time we will hit a million,” she said.
She was grateful to Gavi for giving them enough vaccines to cover even the 15 year olds.
“We are one of the few countries to be given vaccines enough to cover the 15 year olds,” said Dr Manangazira.
World Health Organisation Zimbabwe Country Representative Dr Alex Gasasira commended Zimbabwe for its great strides made in HPV Vaccination.
The WHO also gave the Health Ministry Non-Communicable Disease Kits to use in the Cyclone Idai Hit Areas.