The Delhi government’s family welfare department on Thursday directed district administrations and the Department of Education (DoE) to submit plans for the administration of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in the Capital, which is expected to be launched by the Serum Institute of India (SII) by April this year, people aware of the matter said.
A senior official from the family welfare department said the Delhi government has already started conducting awareness campaigns for the prevention of cervical cancer and the importance of the HPV vaccine among girl students. However, the central government had asked states to prepare a detailed plan on the administration of the HPV vaccine.
“Our teams are already organising street plays, awareness programmes, quizzes and other interactive campaigns for school students in schools to create awareness about cervical cancer and how impactful vaccines can be for its prevention. We have now asked district administrations and the DoE to chalk out a plan on how the vaccine will be administered once it is rolled out by the central government,” the official said.
Cervical cancer is the second-most common type of cancer for women in India, and government data shows that the country contributes to the largest proportion of global cervical cancer burden. Currently, India is completely dependent on foreign manufacturers for the HPV vaccine. However, these vaccines are expensive, with each dose costing over ₹4,000.
In September last year, at the announcement of India’s first indigenously-developed Quadrivalent HPV (qHPV) vaccine against cervical cancer, SII’s CEO Adar Poonawalla had said that each jab is likely to be priced between ₹200-400.
A Delhi government official said they are also working on catching up to the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lag in routine immunisation.
“Because of the pandemic, the progress on routine immunisation was hampered because the focus was on the management of Covid, and to ensure maximum coverage of Covid vaccination. We are catching up now,” the official said.