Wed | Oct 18, 2017

Schools report HPV vaccine success

Published:Thursday | October 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Two of the schools whose students received the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine on Monday are reporting that despite the backlash and islandwide controversy, it was a smooth process.

Leighton Smith, principal of the Papine High School in St Andrew, said that the collaboration with the ministry went fairly well, which resulted in an organised execution of the exercise.

Of the 102 grade seven girls there, 37 were vaccinated, while two opted out.

"When we were approached, we got information from the health ministry. We consulted with the parents and we did the necessary things. They were asked to take in their immunisation cards, there was a refusal letter, and we also sent a fact sheet to them about the vaccination," Smith told The Gleaner.

"Yesterday (Monday), a number of the students came out. We did not see any reactions from them. They took the vaccination, and those who did not, did not remember to take their immunisation cards, so the nurse couldn't' have gone ahead with that. Overall, we did not have any major hiccups."

Principal at the Oberlin High School Michelle Spencer echoed similar sentiments, noting that of the 155 girls, 68 were vaccinated, while seven opted out.

 

SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMME

 

In the meantime, the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) and the Paediatric Association of Jamaica expressed support for the Ministry of Health in what they said was its drive to protect the country's women from cervical cancer by making the HPV vaccine available to the public. They, however, advised that every effort must be made to continue to educate and inform the public so that it can make an informed decision about the vaccine.

"Jamaica has been a leader in the elimination of vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles, and congenital rubella syndrome. With regard to cervical cancer, a vaccine-preventable disease, the bivalent HPV vaccine, if administered to girls ages nine to 14 years, will drastically reduce the risk of cervical cancer," a statement from the MAJ said.

"However, this does not mean that as they get older, they should stop doing their regular screening tests like Pap smears. The HPV vaccine is safe, and the MAJ is encouraging parents to get their daughters vaccinated as it will have a significant public-health impact by decreasing the incidence of cervical cancer."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com