The Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago has expanded the National Immunization Programme with the introduction of the Human Papillomavirus Vaccination (HPV), with an official launch by the Hon. Minister of Health, Dr Faud Khan, late last year.
In its first year, the programme plans to vaccinate a cohort of 20,000 adolescent girls, aged between 11 and 12 years, against the potential risk of cervical cancer. The initial administration of the vaccine for the identified cohort began in January 2013 and is expected to be completed by the end of November 2013 with an expected uptake of 80%.
The HPV vaccination of pre-adolescent girls is delivered as a school-based programme, utilizing the successful initiative for other vaccine delivery in its existing immunization schedule conducted throughout the primary schools. However, almost half of the cohort is in secondary education and the programme would for the first time be administered in students at secondary schools.
The Ministry of Health implemented its communication strategy by conducting first-sensitization sessions with the media personnel followed by relevant national stakeholders. Following the launch of the campaign, a two-hour radio programme about cervical cancer, screening, treatment and prevention was aired. HPV vaccination promotional posters and brochures were developed for distribution to health care providers and health care facilities throughout the country.
Numerous training and sensitization sessions have been conducted for nurses, physicians, school principals, parent teacher associations and religious groups. The media communication included newspaper advertisements and a FAQ on the Ministry of Health’s website.
Published in Global Immunization Newsletter, February 2013.