• Sunday, 19 May 2024

Grozdanova: Nonavalent HPV vaccine to be available for boys aged 12-18, to prevent transmission and provide protection

Grozdanova: Nonavalent HPV vaccine to be available for boys aged 12-18, to prevent transmission and provide protection

Skopje, 15 April 2024 (MIA) - The regular immunization calendar has been modernized with the nonavalent HPV vaccine - GARDASIL 9, which will be available at vaccination sites in one month, said the Ministry of Health at a press conference Monday.

The national immunization coordinator, Aleksandra Grozdanova, clarified that as of this year, the vaccine will be available for boys aged 12-18.

“The number of doses depends on the immunization calendar, boys aged 12-15 will receive two doses, while those older than 15 will receive three. There are two goals of vaccinating boys – prevent them from being transmitters, i.e., from transmitting HPV, while also protecting them too, because they too can develop HPV-associated diseases,” Grozdanova said.

Vaccination at ages 12-15 provides the best immunological response, she said. Both girls and boys are being vaccinated before exposure to the virus.

“For the next three years we have procured 70.000 doses, of course, if the need increases additional vaccines will be procured. In the last year we have a vaccination coverage of only 52-54 percent,” Grozdanova said.

The HPV vaccine was introduced in the country 15 years ago. Until now, the country has been using the quadrivalent vaccine, it will now transition to a nonavalent HPV vaccine.

The UNICEF Representative to North Macedonia, Patrizia DiGiovanni said that 150 new causes of cervical cancer are registered in the country annually. Around 60 patients lose their lives annually due to conditions related to the disease, she said.

“Vaccination is the best way to prevent an HPV infection, cervical cancer and other malignant diseases related to HPV,” she said, stressing that the HPV vaccination coverage is insufficient.

DiGiovanni stressed that fake news and disinformation have contributed to the  perception that the vaccine isn’t safe and isn’t needed. 

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Special Representative to North Macedonia, Anne Johansen, said this is a very significant moment and congratulated the Ministry and the country over the successes achieved in the field.

“We all need to take part in this fight,” Johansen said at the press conference. 

Photo/Video: MIA