The Lagos State Primary Health Care Board (LSPHCB) said it has administered Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to 40 per cent of targeted girls in Lagos.
Dr Ibrahim Mustafa, the Permanent Secretary of LSPHCB, said this on Wednesday while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted virus, with the majority of cervical cancers and other HPV-associated cancers caused by HPV types 16 or 18.
On October 24, 2023, the Federal Government introduced the HPV vaccine into the routine immunisation system to prevent cervical cancer among girls aged nine to 14 years.
The vaccination targets 7.7 million girls, which is the largest number in a single round of HPV vaccination in the African region.
Mustafa, however, noted that the state’s HPV vaccination programme suffered low uptake after its introduction due to misinformation that led to vaccine hesitancy and apathy.
“The coverage is still low, we expect that by now, we would have done 100 per cent of the targeted girls but we’ve only managed to do 40 per cent.
“Initially, there were serious challenges with the programme to the extent that they almost beat some of the vaccine implementers.
“There was a WhatsApp message that went viral that the vaccine will sterilise, kill the girls, and depopulate blacks.
“That voice note caused a lot of harm, people didn’t want to hear about the vaccine. Even in schools, they shut their gates against us.
“It’s unfortunate that people were against the HPV vaccine, and because of that, our other immunisation campaigns like the oral polio vaccine that had acceptance, people started rejecting it,” he said.