The Western Cape Government aims to tackle cervical cancer by offering human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations to Grade 5 female learners who are over the age of 9.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that the large majority of cervical cancer (more than 95%) is due to the human papillomavirus (HPV).
This is why the Western Cape Government has set out to offer the HPV vaccination to Grade 5 female learners over the age of nine in public and special schools across the province during February and March 2022.
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer among women aged between 35 and 44 years and is an almost entirely preventable disease. Thus, it is important that young females are vaccinated against HPV in order to reduce the chance of cervical cancer developing when they are adults.
The Western Cape Department of Health stated that parents and caregivers could play a crucial role in supporting the vaccination programme and combating cervical cancer.
Parents and caregivers are required to fill out and return consent forms so that their children can receive an HPV vaccine.
The Department clarified this vaccine is different to the Covid-19 vaccine saying:
They [parents] are reminded that the consent forms that they sign is going to be only for the HPV vaccine, which is different from the Covid-19 vaccine. The HPV vaccine and the Covid-19 vaccine are not the same.
The provincial government says it acknowledges the concerns parents may have to vaccinate their children as they work hard to protect them everyday.
Overberg district child health co-ordinator, Sr Beatrice Groenewald explained that parents will be provided with all the key information surrounding the HPV vaccine in order to prevent misinformation that discourages parents and caregivers from consenting to the potentially life-saving vaccine for their children.
It is said that some girls may experience some bruising or redness at the injection site, as with all vaccinations. In most cases, side effects are said to resolve within a few days.
Groeneweld says that parents will be sent HPV vaccine frequently asked questions in local languages, together with the consent form.
“Each girl who returns a signed consent form will then receive a ruler as a gift. We will again rely on our good relationships with the schools and community health workers. Support for our HPV vaccination campaign will go a long way in helping us eliminate cervical cancer,” said Groeneweld.