Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Ministry not ready for HPV vaccine to be mandatory

Published:Monday | October 2, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

As the Ministry of Health administers the human papilloma-virus (HPV) vaccines in schools today, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has said it is of equal importance to make sure that parents fully understand and appreciate the benefits of having their children vaccinated.

Tufton said, however, that provision is being made to give parents the option to decline and not allow their children to participate.

The ministry announced last Friday that more than 20,000 girls in grade seven in schools islandwide will be introduced to the vaccine. The vaccine is expected to assist in preventing cervical cancer.

Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer in Jamaican women, after breast.

Asked if he believed the vaccine should be mandatory, Tufton said, "They are not

there yet.

"A parent can decide and state that they don't want their child to get this vaccine. Otherwise, we are moving towards universal coverage of the vaccine and standardising it over time to make it a standard part of the vaccines that we administer,"

he said.

"The initiative does not only zoom in on the recipient of the vaccine, but given the age and the cohort, the parents and guardians of persons. There is a process that is going to involve a parent or guardian being given information. There's a process which involves them actually signing a document which allows permission for their child to participate. If someone does not want to participate, they can opt out of the process."

In the meantime, Kaysia Kerr, head of the National Parenting Support Commission, said her organisation fully supports the initiative, indicating that there has been no negative reaction from the parents with whom she has interacted thus far.