Malaysia’s HPV Vaccination Dropped To 39% For Girls Aged 15+ In 2022

First dose HPV vaccination coverage in Malaysia dove during the Covid-19 pandemic among girls aged 15+ from 82% in 2020 to 14% in 2021, before climbing to 39% in 2022. Among girls before age 15, HPV vax coverage dropped to 82% in 2022 from 94% in 2019.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — Vaccination coverage of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine took a nosedive during the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia to 39 per cent of the first dose for girls aged 15 years and older last year.

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Immunisation Data portal, Malaysia recorded zero coverage of the last dose of the HPV vaccine for that female 15+ population in 2022.

In 2021, Malaysia recorded 14 per cent and 13 per cent coverage for the first and last dose of the vaccine respectively that helps prevent cervical cancer.

Malaysia maintained an average vaccination rate of 85 per cent from 2011 to 2020, spanning nine years.

In 2013 and 2017, the country surpassed the 90 per cent threshold for both first and last doses of the vaccine, with 2013 recording 91 per cent for the first dose and 90 per cent for the final dose, while 2017 achieved 94 per cent coverage for both doses.

According to information provided on the MyHealth website, Malaysian female teenagers who are in Form One will receive their first shot of the HPV vaccine in school. They will follow a three-dose schedule, with the second dose administered one month after the first, and the final dose given six months after the second dose.

For adolescents who have left school, they would have to go to government health clinics to get immunised. Girls who are not a part of the specified Form One group have the option of receiving their vaccination at private clinics or hospitals for a certain fee.

HPV vaccination coverage of girls before they turned 15 the following year fell from 94 per cent in 2019 to 80 per cent in 2020, marking a 14 percentage point decrease.

Last year, there was a two percentage point increase in the first dose of the vaccine, bringing the vaccination rate of girls aged below 15 to 82 per cent.

The 80 per cent rate marks the lowest HPV vaccination coverage of girls before age 15 from 2013 to 2022, with 78 per cent in 2022 being the lowest for the final dose.

Throughout the nine-year period, HPV vaccination rates for girls by age 15 consistently remained at or slightly above 80 per cent.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa announced last June that 336,592 Form One female students from the 2020, 2021, and 2022 cohorts who had missed their vaccines have yet to receive their HPV vaccinations, despite ongoing efforts to catch up.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is currently prioritising girls who are aged 15 and above over those turning 13 this year.

The WHO said in April 2022 that a single dose of the HPV vaccine offered solid protection against HPV – the virus that causes cervical cancer – that is comparable to two or three-dose regimens.

ROSE Foundation founding trustee and medical technical advisor Prof Dr Woo Yin Ling posted recently that the MOH was moving towards a single-dose HPV vaccination schedule for Malaysia, in line with the WHO’s recommendation.

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