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(LifeSiteNews) — Leading up to a nationwide campaign to inoculate millions of young girls with the HPV vaccine, Catholic bishops called on the Nigerian government to be straightforward with the public about its potential side effects.

During the past week, the federal government of Nigeria began its first phase of massive vaccination of girls with the human papillomavirus (HPV) with the objective to prevent cervical cancer. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) responded to the move by urging transparency from political leaders regarding “doubts and fears” citizens have about the safety of injecting their daughters with the vaccine.

According to a CBCN statement sent to ACI Africa of the EWTN News outlet, bishops noted that “the National Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and collaborating agencies should not dismiss the doubts and fears of the people over the safety of the HPV vaccine with a wave of hand.”

The statement further argued that the NPHCDA “must ensure that the vaccine is diligently scrutinized” as well as “prioritize providing vaccine acceptors with the adequate and proper information they need to make informed choices about a given intervention.”

In addition to citing safety concerns, the CBCN also argued for the need for parental consent prior to injecting minor girls with the vaccines as well as encouraging the federal government to advertise alternatives to HPV prevention, such as chastity and abstinence.

The bishops’ statement came before the NPHCDA initiated its “vaccination drive,” in which it “introduced the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine into its routine immunization system, aiming to reach 7.7 million girls,” according to an October 24 press release from UNICEF, the child protection arm of the United Nations.

The release detailed that the nearly 8 million girls subjected to the mandatory shots were between 9 and 14 years old and described the shots as “highly efficacious in preventing infection with HPV types 16 and 18 that are known to cause at least 70% of cervical cancers.”

The “five-day mass vaccination campaign,” which began October 24 “in schools and communities,” took place “in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory.” An additional 21 states are to be included in the effort in May 2024. The rollout is to set to be followed by the HPV shots being added to the Nigeria vaccine schedule.

The Federal Ministry of Health is distributing the vaccines to minor girls free of charge and has “support” from a variety of international organizations, including UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). The press release backed its decision to vaccinate millions of minor girls with the HPV shots with statistics that “cervical cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most frequent cause of cancer deaths among [Nigerian] women aged between 15 and 44 years.”

According to the most recent available data, “12,000 new cases and 8,000 deaths from cervical cancer” among women were reported in 2020.

Safety risks, side effects of HPV vaccines

Chronic HPV infections have been linked to various cancers, including anal cancer, penile cancer and, most commonly, cervical cancer. The WHO encourages all 9-14-year-old girls to take between one and three doses (more are recommended for individuals with weak immune systems) before even engaging in sexual activity, which is the only way to contract the infection.

The Gardasil-9 vaccine was approved by Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), in a single dose, for the nation’s vaccine schedule. An October 17 press release from the NAFDAC and the NPHCDA specified that the shots are “recommended for girls and boys aged 11 to 12 years, but it can be given as early as 9 years or as late as 26 years.”

The vaccine is advertised for boys even though its long-term, primary goal is to prevent HPV-caused cervical cancer.

Since its approval nearly 20 years ago in the United States and Canada, a wide array of life-changing and life-threatening adverse events have occurred among girls and women who take Gardasil. In 2015, an investigative journalism report from Canada revealed that over 50 of its female citizens who took the shots suffered from serious health issues. The same report found that over 100 American girls died after vaccination in addition to thousands of reported side effects.

A 2018 study claiming that Gardasil provided protection from preterm births was retracted in 2021 after its authors admitted a mistake in data interpretation may instead lead to greater risk of preterm births in women who took the shots. Similarly, a peer-reviewed study released the same year argued that the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) cited serious side effects from Gardasil at a rate of 6.2 percent when a more accurate representation of total adverse events reports would be nearly 16 percent.

Despite evidence supporting the dangers of the shots, dozens of lawsuits having been filed as a result of the vaccine’s effects and the natural avoidance of HPV infection through chastity and abstinence, Gardasil remains promoted in the United States and Canada, joined now by Nigeria.


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