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n South African Medical Journal - High uptake of Gardasil vaccine among 9 - 12-year-old schoolgirls participating in an HPV vaccination demonstration project in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa : research
Background. Cervical cancer is linked to infection of the cervix by oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) subtypes. The quadrivalent Gardasil vaccine (against HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18), recommended in girls 9 - 12 years of age, has been shown to be safe, immunogenic and efficacious, with minimal or no side-effects.
Aim. To demonstrate the capacity of school health teams to carry out vaccinations within a school environment.
Objectives. To assess the uptake of 3 doses of the vaccine, document lessons learnt and provide recommendations for a national rollout of school-based HPV vaccination for learners.
Methods. Female learners (age 9 - 12 years) from 31 primary schools in Nongoma and Ceza districts (KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa) were identified for inclusion in the vaccination programme. The 3 doses of vaccine were administered by existing school health teams. Education and training sessions were held with all stakeholders: provincial departments of health and education; school health teams; primary healthcare nurses; hospital doctors and nurses; private practitioners; school principals, teachers and governing bodies; parents; and community and traditional leaders.
Results. The overall uptake of the vaccine was found to be high: 99.7%, 97.9% and 97.8% for the first, second and third doses respectively (N=963). No adverse events were attributed to the HPV vaccine.
Conclusion. This project demonstrated the successful implementation of HPV vaccination among learners (ages 9 - 12 years) using school health teams.
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