By Moses Morenikeji

Does Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine lead to depopulation? Will it encourage promiscuity among girls?

Does it have adverse effects?

These are among questions addressed at a two day Media Dialogue on “Combating the Most Preventable Form of Deadly Cancer Affecting Women and Girls (HPV) through Vaccination” held in Lagos recently.

Addressing these issues, the Social and Behavioural Change (SBC) Specialist, UNICEF, Lagos Field Office, Mrs. Aderonke Akinola-Akinwole, described all these as mere rumours and misconceptions which she said are unfounded.

She attributed low uptake of the HPV vaccine to misinformation, saying this has militated against the objective of the. HPV vaccination campaign.

The SBC Specialist therefore called on the media to champion the awareness to demystify misconceptions about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination in order to increase the uptake of the vaccine. 

Akinola-Akinwole noted that the media could stop the spread of rumours on the vaccine by providing correct and adequate messages and facts consistently.

According to her, these rumours were only meant to rob women the benefits of taking the vaccine which was to tackle cervical cancer in women.

“If these misconceptions are not addressed, it can lead to total rejection of the vaccine and consequently increase the outbreak of vaccine -preventable diseases,” Akinola-Akinwole submitted.

In a presentation, a Health Specialist, UNICEF, Lagos Field Office, Dr. Ijeoma Agbo, maintained that HPV was the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract and responsible for more than 95% cases of cervical cancer.

The Health Specialist, who hinted that  cervical cancer was the second most common cancer in Nigeria after the breast cancer, said the objective of the HPV vaccination campaign was to ensure that 80% of girls between 9-14 years were vaccinated by December 2024.

“Nigeria has put in efforts to reduce morbidity due to HPV so that on the long run, we can reduce high incidence and prevalence of cervical cancer,” the Health Specialist stated.

She listed Lagos, Ogun and Osun States as some of the South West states that took part of the exercise when the first phase of the vaccine was launched last year.

Dr Agbo stated that the second phase of the vaccination programme would be launched on Monday, May 27, 2024 in 21 states including Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti states.

She gave the public assurance of safety of the vaccine, adding that it is free for beneficiaries who are girls of ages 9 – 14 years.

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