Hidden in a side corridor at Plexus, students are waiting in line by a purple banner. It reads: ‘1 vaccine protects against 6 types of cancer.’ A pop-up vaccination site has been set up in the converted study room where this month, students can get an HPV shot without an appointment.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus. According to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), approximately 85 percent of the population gets infected with it at least once in their life. Most types are naturally cleared by your body’s immune system, but some types can cause cancer. All young adults up to 27 years of age are welcome to get two HPV shots this year, free of charge.
Daniëlle van den Berghe is getting her second shot today. ‘I had my first vaccination when I was thirteen. Not much was known about it at the time and my parents decided not to take me for a second one. Now that there is more information available and I’m an adult, I can finally get a second shot, which is all the more convenient because of this location.’
For that same reason, Huub is getting a jab on Thursday night. I was going to get one anyway and two months ago, I saw that a vaccination location would be opening here. It’s only a minute’s bike ride from where I live.’
What is striking is the large number of internationals who showed up. The Italian Zoe Orlandi is waiting for her friend who is busy talking on the phone. ‘She’s calling to check if she has already had this injection,’ Orlandi says. ‘I’m getting the vaccine just to be sure, because cancer is a nasty disease, of course.’
Location manager Rolf de Bree is pleased with the turnout. ‘You can really see that on-site vaccination works much better. For some students, making an appointment is a bridge too far. Sometimes the location or time is inconvenient. Now they can just drop by whenever they want, after exercising or studying. We vaccinated 63 people in just one hour today, two-thirds of whom did not have an appointment.’
Compared with other vaccination locations in the region, such as Lisse and Katwijk, we have the highest turnout here at the university, he says.
‘Not one location is as successful as Leiden University, so I hope that more of these kinds of locations will be opened in the future.’
You can get an HPV shot at Plexus every Thursday evening between 17:30 and 20:00 until 22 June. Don’t forget to bring a valid ID.