Students in Guagua get HPV vaccines

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO --- Close to a hundred girls aged nine to 14 years old from schools in Guagua town were immunized against the human papillomavirus (HPV) for their protection against infections and cervical cancer.

The vaccination held at the Guagua National Colleges is the first of a series of inoculations that targets some 17,000 young girls across Pampanga.

The program is under the government's "Shield (Strengthening HPV Immunization through Elimination and Leadership Development) against Cervical Cancer spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DepEd).

The two agencies collaborated with the local government unit of Guagua, Pampanga, provincial government, federated association of parents and teachers, and healthcare company MSD Philippines for the large-scale school-based vaccination themed "Sa Aking Paglaki, Walang HPV."

DOH Central Luzon Director Corazon Flores said "Pampanga Shield against Cervical Cancer" marks a significant step toward fortifying the community's defenses against vaccine-preventable diseases.

"This is aligned with the DOH's commitment to promoting 'Kalasag ng Kalusugan' (Health Shield) which calls for a collective action to protect every Filipino woman from the burden of cervical cancer by making healthcare services and vaccines accessible to all communities," she said.

Flores added that under the DOH's School-Based Immunization Program, Grade 4 students are eligible to receive the two HPV vaccine doses, six months apart, to safeguard against cervical cancer.

Immunogenicity studies have shown that two doses provide better protection for the younger age group. Early vaccination before HPV exposure is also more effective.

Parental consent is mandatory for eligible female learners to receive the free vaccines.

Governor Dennis Pineda encouraged parents and guardians to have their children, particularly eligible girls, to have them vaccinated against HPV.

"This is the right time. For the love of your children, have them vaccinated early," he said.

DepEd has instructed all schools conducting face-to-face classes to resume the delivery of school-based health services, including immunization.

Health services will be preferably administered to students attending in-person classes, and arrangements can be made for those in the home-based learning modality.

DOH data showed that HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90 percent of cervical cancers.

The disease is preventable through vaccination and screening, and also manageable through early detection and appropriate treatment.

Cervical cancer ranks as the second most common cancer among women in the Philippines and the second most prevalent cancer among women aged 15 to 44.

The data showed that some 7,897 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually, leading to over 4,000 deaths, or roughly 11 females in the country succumbing to the disease daily.

DOH, DepEd, and their partners are actively working to expand the reach of "Shield against Cervical Cancer" vaccination across the country.

DOH has secured a supply of 1-million HPV vaccine doses, intended to provide protection to approximately 500,000 girls aged nine to 14, or approximately 38 percent of the targeted school-aged children nationwide.


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