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Anonymous messages spread vaccine myths

North West parents have allegedly received anonymous messages warning them not to vaccinate their daughters against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Health officials have once again assured the public of the vaccine’s safety.

The HPV vaccination campaign is designed to help prevent cervical cancer South Africa's second most common form of cancer among women.

The HPV vaccination campaign is designed to help prevent cervical cancer South Africa’s second most common form of cancer among women.

On 12 March 2014, the departments of health and basic education launched a school-based campaign to vaccinate girls older than nine years old and in Grade Four against HPV.

HPV is mainly transmitted through sexual contact. Most sexually active people will contract HPV at some point, but most infections will disappear however certain HPV strains can lead to cervical cancer in women.

As the campaign rolls out, some North West parents have alleged that they received anonymous messages warning them not to vaccinate their daughters against the virus and claiming that the vaccine is unsafe.

This follows the circulation of similar myths via social networks.

Health officials have dismissed this claim and assured the public that the vaccine has been rigorously tested for safety and is used worldwide.

“The vaccine has been rigorously tested for safety and is used worldwide”

“Research was conducted to ensure the safety of the vaccine,” said Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Department of Health Spokesperson Nthabiseng Sebake.

There are several different types of HPV vaccines available worldwide, two of which are available in South Africa. Sebake added that the type of HPV vaccine used in South African schools is safe and also less likely to reactions among girls following the injections.

According to vaccine manufacture GlaxoSmithKline, the most common side effects are mild and include temporary redness and swelling around the injection site as well as headaches.

The North West Department of Health is slated to release a provincial report on the school vaccination campaign soon.

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