For the Health of Colombian Women – 25,000+ women vaccinated against HPV in a single day
March 26th 2022 was a great day in the fight to prevent HPV-related cancer in Colombia.
Under the leadership of the Colombian League Against Cancer (LCCC), the Colombian Ministry of Health, Secretaries of Health of various provinces and cities and towns, the National Cancer Institute and many other entities in the health sector, the first nation-wide “Vacunatón” (vaccination event) against the human papillomavirus (HPV) was carried out across the country. The purpose of this mobilization was clear: to raise public awareness about cervical cancer, its implications and how to prevent it through HPV vaccination. In Colombia the HPV vaccine is free for girls between the ages of 9-17.
All the branches of LCCC participated in the “Vacunatón” event with contagious enthusiasm. The vaccinators, volunteers, and health personnel joined forces to achieve something that had never been done before: to vaccinate more than 25,000 women in a single day! Vaccination stations were set up in shopping malls, hospitals, LCCC branches and health centres. Some vaccinators also made considerable effort to reach girls in remote locations (like the courageous man in the photo visiting villages in the Boyacá region)!
The free vaccine was provided by the Colombian Ministry of Health and distributed through the Expanded Immunization Plan (PAI). Half of the women who were vaccinated that day were over 18 years of age, yet they were willing to pay for the vaccine, since it was only free for girls up to 17 years of age.
Because everyone did their part, we were able to achieve the goal of more than 25.000 girls and women vaccinated in a single day. The contribution of the media was invaluable. The event received more than 160 mentions in the written press and on the radio, not to mention multiple announcements on the television newscasts that were broadcasted during the days leading up to March 26th. It is noteworthy that there was not a single case of an adverse effect attributed to the vaccine in this extraordinary day that was baptized with the name “For the health of Colombian women.”
Organizers have already decided to coordinate the second “Vacunatón” event in October 2022, in order to apply the second dose to the girls who started their scheme. It is important to remember that vaccination days are every day, and not just on one special day, and eliminating cervical cancer is everyone’s responsibility. The LCCC acknowledges the support of the Colombian Ministry of Health and the District Secretaries of Health that helped make this national event a success.’ When we asked him how he felt at the end of the day, Dr. Carlos Castro, Medical Director of the LCCC said, “At the end of the day I was exhausted…but my soul was happy and proud of the teamwork shown by everyone involved.”
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