The Vaccine and Cervical Cancer Screen (VACCS) project: Acceptance of human papillomavirus vaccination in a school-based programme in two provinces of South Africa
Background. The incidence of cervical cancer in South Africa (SA) remains high, and the current screening programme has had limited success. New approaches to prevention and screening tactics are needed.
Objectives. To investigate acceptance of school-based human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, as well as the information provided, methods of obtaining consent and assent, and completion rates achieved.
Methods. Information on cervical cancer and HPV vaccination was provided to 19 primary schools in Western Cape and Gauteng provinces participating in the study. Girls with parental consent and child assent were vaccinated during school hours at their schools.
Results. A total of 3 465 girls were invited to receive HPV vaccine, of whom 2 046 provided written parental consent as well as child assent. At least one dose of vaccine was delivered to 2 030 girls (99.2% of the consented cohort), while a total of 1 782 girls received all three doses. Sufficient vaccination was achieved in 91.6% of the vaccinated cohort. Of all invited girls, 56.9% in Gauteng and 50.7% in the Western Cape were sufficiently vaccinated.
Conclusion. This implementation project demonstrated that HPV vaccination is practical and safe in SA schools. Political and community acceptance was good, and positive attitudes towards vaccination were encountered. During the study, which mimicked a governmental vaccine roll-out programme, high completion rates were achieved in spite of several challenges encountered.