The Gauteng Health Department has appealed to parents, guardians and care givers to cooperate with the second round of the national Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination campaign currently underway in the province.
The vaccination drive, which aims to protect young girls from developing cervical cancer later in life, is conducted biannually.
HPV is a common virus that infects people and could eventually cause cervical cancer. There are over 200 types of HPV viruses and research has shown that HPV types 16 and 18 account for 70% of cervical cancer cases.
The department said the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing the HPV 16 and 18 strains of the virus. Cervical cancer is a cancer that affects the lower part of the womb which is called the cervix.
Cancer is when abnormal cells in the human body start to grow very quickly and cannot be controlled by normal body processes. Over some time, the normal cells are then replaced by cancer cells and without early diagnoses and treatment, the person may complicate and die.
In an attempt to prevent HPV, the South African government has been rolling out the vaccine campaign in primary schools across the country for free.
The department on Tuesday said in Gauteng, the campaign is undertaken in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education in all public primary schools and public special schools as part of the Integrated School Health Programme.
It said the HPV second dose campaign, which began on 22 August, will conclude on 27 September.
The campaign will be administered to girls in Grade 4, who are aged nine years and above and who received their first HPV dose during the first HPV round in February and March 2017. It will also be administered to girls in the same grade, who did not receive their first dose during the 2017 first HPV round due to being underage, absenteeism or had no consent forms and the parent has now provided a new consent form.
The department said girls who were in Grade 4, class of 2016, who received their first HPV dose in August/September 2016 and are now in Grade 5 this year, are also due for a second dose.
The department has urged parents to give consent for their children to be vaccinated. No pupils will be immunised without having a signed consent form.
One comprehensive signed Integrated School Health Programme consent form is used for the HPV campaign and it remains valid for the duration of both the first and the second round HPV doses.
Therefore, the school does not have to reissue the second consent form, as the first HPV round consent form is still valid, unless the parent wishes to change their consent, the department said.
Source: South African Government News Agency