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My daughter will be administered HPV vaccine – Health official

My daughter will be administered HPV vaccine – Health official

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by Crystal Bacchus

Health officials here are standing firm in their professional opinion that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, which is being administered here, is safe.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Monday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Simone Keizer Beache, manager of the Expanded Immunization Programme (EPI) Sr Ferocha Roache and registrar at the Stubbs Polyclinic Dr Franklyn James used the opportunity to dispel the claim that the vaccine is a major health risk, as has been asserted in some quarters.

The Cervarix brand vaccine is being administered to girls in Grade 6 between the age of 11 and 12 years and will be delivered in two doses, six months apart.

The Ministry hopes to vaccinate 869 girls during this programme, in which parents and guardians may choose not to have their children participate.

The officials firstly denied that the vaccine has not been around long enough to monitor its effectiveness and side effects.

They explained that although cervical cancer takes 20 to 30 years to manifest and the vaccine has been available for only the past 10 years, they know the vaccine is effective because it prevents the transmission of HPV, which is the main cause of cervical cancer.

“The thing is, we know that the vaccine reduces the transmission of HPV infection. So, if HPV is proven to be the most common cause of cervical cancer, it is natural to expect that ultimately it will cause a reduction in cervical cancer,” Dr James explained.

Sr Roache supported his claim and said, “There are studies done in Scotland, Australia, USA, England and Sweden for those countries who have been using the vaccine for 10 years now and the studies show that there is a significant decrease in pre-cancerous lesions.”

The health officials further denounced claims that the vaccine causes paralysis, early menopause, infertility and other ailments.

“Most of the conditions that the vaccine has been accused of causing are conditions whose causes are difficult to approve or disprove. They look for diseases where it is difficult to say yes, but it’s difficult to say no,” Dr James said emphatically.

He also explained that a study done in Denmark about complications after getting the HPV vaccine suggested that the girls who developed an apparent adverse problem had already been visiting their gynecologist for that issue. Therefore, these girls already had medical complaints prior to the vaccine.

Concerning the use of aluminium in the vaccine, the health officials explained that there are different types of aluminium and that which is used exists in extremely small amounts in other vaccines as well, to improve the person’s responsiveness to the vaccine.

“That is not the first vaccine to contain aluminium. Most of the vaccines administered to babies contain aluminium. The concentration of aluminium that will be administered to adolescents is going to be less than given to a baby,” Dr James said.

“It is not for malicious reasons why aluminium is used in vaccines. The aluminium that is used is in two forms, aluminium hydroxide and aluminium phosphate and it is used so as to increase the response of the immune system to the vaccine,” Dr James said.

He elaborated that persons who can have a problem with aluminium are those who have kidney problems and are not capable of expelling the substance from their systems or those who are on dialysis.

The common side effects of the HPV vaccine are: redness and swelling at the injection site, headaches, mild itching and nausea. Fainting may occur, but it is not a side effect, but rather due to needle phobia, often occurring before actually receiving the vaccine.

“Side effects show up about within 15 minutes. Maybe by the time you get home you may develop a fever, pain, and redness at the injection, and those are normal phenomena,” Sr Roache elaborated.

The unit, however, admits that there is a one-in-a-million chance of a serious adverse effect occurring.

The health officials say the negative claims being made about the HPV vaccine are false and malicious and encouraged persons to do their own research and allow their daughters to be administered with the vaccine.(CB)