Surprise! Some health workers don’t know what HPV vaccine is

HPV vaccine

Some healthcare givers at some primary healthcare centres in Lagos say they do not know what the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine is all about.

In other facilities visited by our correspondent, healthcare workers — mainly nurses — gave conflicting advice on the recommended dosage of the vaccine; while one worker at one of the public hospitals visited requested a bribe before she would administer the vaccine on our correspondent.

The nurse said the reason for demanding a bribe was because the vaccine is for underage girls and females who have not become sexually active. Her explanation is based on half-truth, according to experts’ advice on the HPV vaccine and who should obtain it

In general, HPV vaccination is recommended for all preteens (including girls and boys) at age 11–12 years.

According to the National Cancer Control Plan, HPV vaccination is targeted at young females between age nine and 13 years of age; while WHO recommends that girls of 15 years and below get the vaccination before they become sexually active.

United States Centres for Disease Control says all preteens need HPV vaccination, so that they can be protected from HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life.

“The HPV vaccine targets the HPV types that most commonly cause cervical cancer and can cause some cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, and oropharynx. It also protects against the HPV types that cause most genital warts. The HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing the targeted HPV types, as well as the most common health problems caused by them,” CDC stated.

Our correspondent reported that she visited a handful of public and private hospitals in Lagos. They include the Ilupeju Primary Healthcare Centre, Randle General Hospital, Gbaja and four others.

PUNCH HealthWise notes that the National Cancer Control Plan of the Federal Ministry of Health hopes to attain 90 percent HPV vaccine coverage nationally among eligible population of children aged 9-13 years by 2022.

At the Ilupeju Primary Healthcare Centre, which is temporarily located at Odi-Olowo headquarter, a female nurse who attended to our correspondent said did not know what the reporter meant by HPV vaccine.

The nurse asked if the correspondent was making enquiries about Hepatitis B vaccine.

The reporter then googled HPV and showed the nurse what HPV vaccine is all about.

Asked why some health workers could claim to be unaware of the HPV vaccine, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Dr. Confidence Offor, said that it was probably because the vaccine has not been given enough media attention.

She added that the HPV vaccine has also not been included in the national programme for immunisation, hence the lack of its popularity among some health workers.

According to the World Health Organisation, HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and can cause cervical cancer in women, as well as other types of cancers and genital warts in both men and women.

“Almost all cervical cancer cases (99 percent) are linked to infection with high-risk human papillomaviruses, an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual contact.

“Although most infections with HPV resolve spontaneously and cause no symptoms, persistent infection can cause cervical cancer in women,” WHO stated.