This past week we spent two days at Namatala Health center IV helping with their HPV immunization campaign in their local primary schools. We started the day by arriving at the health center and were introduced to the head nurse of the immunization clinic. We were invited to go on an outreach campaign to have all girls aged 10 in local primary school initiated on the HPV vaccine. We walked through the surrounding village and arrived at the primary school to begin our work. We sat and waited as the room started to fill with girls aged 10. A class size of 20 first came in, then another, and another until the room was filled. We sat in a room filled with almost 100 girls, holding their arms in anticipation of a vaccine and laughing with their peers. Before we started administering shots we had a brief health education. The head nurse started off by asking “Do you all know why you’re here?” The main answer being “To receive a vaccine that will keep us healthy.” The head nurse continued to educate, explaining about the cervix, and how cancer can develop; how this vaccine will help and why it needs to be administered starting at age 10.
Our next task was to write all the girls into the registry before starting the injections. We began taking names of the girls and this was quite a task. They would swarm the person documenting names, all laughing and excited to be next to be written in the registry. Some spoke so softly you could barely tell they were speaking. After about 45 minutes of documenting it was finally time to start the injections! Again, the girls swarmed the area around where the injections were given and were all eager to go next, already rolling up their sleeves for an injection. I was quite surprised when the head nurse asked for a volunteer to go first and so many hands went up. The first girl went without a flinch, and every girl until the last went and at most only let her face cringe. It was not what I was expecting at all. Usually kids this age are screaming and running away in fear. But all the girls willingly went up and took their shot, happy to now be healthier and protected from future cervical cancer!