KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 – More than 300,000 school girls who missed their human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination from 2020 to 2022 are still awaiting their doses.
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa told the Dewan Rakyat today that despite the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) ongoing catch-up efforts, a total of 336,592 female students from the 2020, 2021, and 2022 cohorts have yet to receive their HPV vaccination.
The HPV vaccine intended for Form One schoolgirls was not administered to those from the 2020 to 2022 cohorts due to disruptions in the global supply.
“By utilising the remaining vaccine stock in 2020, a total of 34,933 (15.7 per cent) female students from the 2021 cohort of Form One received their first dose of HPV vaccine. This means that there are still 187,151 individuals, or 84.3 per cent, who have not received the HPV vaccine in 2021.In 2022, the global price of the HPV vaccine increased by sixfold, allowing the MOH to only procure 100,000 doses of HPV vaccine by December 2022.
“All of these vaccines were distributed to the states to be administered to Form One female students from the 2021 cohort who had not yet received the vaccine. Therefore, the total number of Form One female students from the 2020 to 2022 cohorts who have not received any HPV vaccine doses amounts to 336,592,” Dr Zaliha said.
The health minister was responding to Puchong MP Yeo Bee Yin’s inquiry on the status of HPV injections for over 500,000 schoolgirls who did not receive the injection between 2020 and 2022. Yeo also inquired about the procurement of HPV vaccines, which has been allocated a budget of RM120 million for 2023.
Dr Zaliha said the MOH is committed to ensuring that all female students from the 2021, 2022, and 2023 cohorts will receive the HPV vaccine before they complete their schooling.
“The priority for administering the HPV vaccine is given to the female students of the 2021 cohort who are currently in Form Three. Once the entire cohort is completed, the vaccine will be provided to the students of the 2022 cohort, followed by the students of the 2023 cohort. However, this depends on the quantity of vaccines available in 2023,” Dr Zaliha said.
On the procurement of new HPV vaccines, the MOH expects to finalise a deal by the third quarter of this year.
The National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) in August 2022 estimated that over 560,000 girls across the country missed their HPV vaccination, which is highly effective in preventing cervical cancer, in the school-based programme from 2020 to 2022.
The NCSM in its policy brief titled “Restart the HPV vaccination programme” stated most states did not report comprehensively conducting any HPV vaccination programmes from 2020 to 2022, with only Melaka reporting a 100 per cent success rate in 2020.
In 2022, seven out of the 16 states and federal territories surveyed reported zero per cent HPV vaccination for the year – namely, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Labuan, Kedah, Penang, Perlis, and Johor.