The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is safe.

This assurance has come from Minister of Health, John Boyce, and Manager of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand, during a Press briefing last Friday.

The Ministry of Health will be introducing the vaccine which prevents cervical cancer to 11 and 12 year-old secondary school girls come January next year.

Mr. Boyce said that Government???s decision to introduce the vaccine was informed by research and ???good clinical and medical practice???.

???We will continue our programme with interaction with the public, and with the parents especially, because this is a consent form arrangement??? The idea is to get our parents on board in terms of participating in the discussion around this vaccine and the issues that may surround it??? We know the successes of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine in respect of the control of cervical cancer in ladies and this is why we are launching the programme and certainly we expect full participation when that time arrives in January,??? he stated.

Dr. Ferdinand pointed out that the first of these interactive discussions with parents will take the form of a town hall meeting which will take place on Wednesday, December 18, at the St. Michael School, beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Additionally, parents of first form students will be invited to meet with Ministry of Health staff at secondary schools during the first week of January to discuss the vaccine.

???It is a vaccine which will help cancer of the cervix in women but it also prevents against other cancers, mainly cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus and some throat cancers as well. So we want to allay fears that the public might have that it is not a safe vaccine, it is a safe vaccine. It is registered and licensed by the FDA in the USA and is also certified by the World Health Organization and is used in many countries around the world so we are not the first country that is using this vaccine,??? she underlined.

The EPI Manager also disclosed that The Ministry of Health recently won the Immunisation Shield for Surveillance from the Caribbean Public Health Agency for the second successive year. The shield is awarded to the country that has done the best work in EPI surveillance.

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