By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with its partners is planning to switch from double HPV vaccine dose to single dose and from single age cohort of 10- year-old girls to multiple- age cohorts (MAC) vaccination for eligible girls 10-18 year.
That development was revealed at a-five-day stakeholders meeting.
The Ministry of Health in October, 2022, introduced HPV vaccine into the routine immunization system, in the form of a vaccination roll-out campaign targeting girls 10 years of age.
During the campaign roll-out, the first dose of the vaccine was administered to over five hundred eligible girls, who could have also taken their second dose after six month from the time of the first administered dose.
Dr. Desmond Maada Kangabia, Child Health and Expanded Programme on Immunization, said further research and evidence gathered by WHO and other health professional bodies on the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccine, showed that just one dose of the HPV vaccine can provide life-long protection against cervical cancer for girls.
Dr. Kangbai continued that the switch is cost-effective as it is possible to provide for more girls.
“Just imagine the HPV vaccine was introduced with the hope of giving 2 doses to a girl and now with the switch, 2 doses can be given to two eligible girls instead of two vaccine doses per girl. You see how more girls would benefit from the lifesaving vaccine,” he stressed
Dr. Kangbai said with the switch to single dose and multiple-age cohorts, they were planning for a nationwide HPV vaccination next year, in which girls 10-18 both in and out of school, will be vaccinated against cervical cancer.
He reiterated that cervical cancer is the second cause of deaths in women in Sierra Leone after breast cancer.