Pediatrician Warns Of Misinformation About HPV Vaccine

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Professor Ayebo Sadoh, a consultant paediatrician at the University of Benin’s School of Medicine, clarified misconceptions about the Human Papillomavirus vaccine and warned against misinformation.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja, the professor of paediatrics refuted several false claims .

“The vaccines are important and safe. They are safe for use,” she insisted.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can affect various areas, including the skin, genitals, and throat.

The WHO states that nearly all sexually active individuals will contract HPV at some point, often without exhibiting symptoms, and in most cases, the body’s immune system naturally eliminates the virus.

“Persistent infection with high-risk HPV can cause abnormal cells to develop, which go on to become cancer.

“It also said that Prophylactic vaccination against HPV and screening and treatment of pre-cancer lessons are effective strategies to prevent cervical cancer and are very cost-effective.

“Cervical cancer can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage and treated promptly, it noted.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that nations worldwide are collaborating to expedite the eradication of cervical cancer in the upcoming years, with a unanimous commitment to achieving three specific objectives by 2030.

“Contrary to the claims being circulated, there are over 100 strains of HPV, not just 11. The vaccine targets four main strains – 6, 11, 16, and 18 – these include the strains most commonly associated with cervical cancer.

“Specifically, strains 16 and 18 are responsible for approximately 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases.

“The bivalent vaccine, containing strains 16 and 18, also offers cross-protection against strains 31, 33, and 45, potentially preventing up to 80 per cent of cervical cancer cases,” she stated.

Addressing concerns about the vaccine’s safety, the don stated that the notion of the vaccine being harmful to everyone who took it was “baseless”.

“If this were true, millions of people worldwide, who have received the vaccine, would be ill or dead.

“Vaccines, including the HPV vaccine, undergo rigorous testing and evaluation before being approved for use,” she added.

Professor Ayebo Sadoh, a consultant paediatrician, dismissed the notion that the HPV vaccine is ineffective. She emphasized that vaccines, being medications given to healthy individuals, undergo rigorous testing and must demonstrate proven efficacy before being licensed.

Addressing concerns about US court cases, she clarified that simply filing a lawsuit does not imply a direct link between the vaccine and adverse effects, and causality is not established by mere court proceedings.

“While some studies have suggested associations between the vaccine and certain side effects, these have not been corroborated by long-term studies involving large cohorts of vaccinated individuals,” she elaborated.

Professor Ayebo Sadoh, a consultant paediatrician, clarified that the AstraZeneca vaccine was not discontinued due to safety concerns, but rather because more effective options became available.

She noted that many Nigerians who received the AstraZeneca vaccine experienced no adverse effects.

While acknowledging that the vaccine industry is a business, she emphasized the vital importance of vaccines, which save approximately four million lives worldwide each year, highlighting their life-saving benefits.

“Contrary to claims that the HPV vaccination is mandated, I want to assure everyone that it is not,” she clarified.

Professor Ayebo Sadoh refuted claims that the government had neglected to invest in Pap smear tests, highlighting that free cervical cancer screenings are currently being offered to women at health centers as part of a comprehensive campaign. She also denounced a viral video circulating misinformation, labeling it as “misleading” and ” harmful”.

“an attempt at national sabotage motivated by antivax sentiments”.

Professor Sadoh expressed skepticism about the motives and timing of those spreading fear and misinformation, urging the public to trust the thorough consultative processes that led to the introduction of the HPV vaccine.

The Federal Government has successfully implemented the first phase of the vaccine rollout in 19 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, reaching over five million girls.

The second phase, launched on May 27, 2024, is currently underway in 21 additional states, including Anambra, Borno, Cross River, and others, with the aim of expanding coverage and protecting more girls from cervical cancer.

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