More than 6,000 boys and girls receive HPV vaccine

Molwyn Joseph (File photo)

There have been no reported cases of side effects resulting from the Human Papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine which has been administered to approximately 6,000 boys and girls between the ages of nine and 13.

The drive to administer the HPV vaccination was launched on July 2nd last year in an effort to reduce the risk of cancers caused by the HPV virus. Before the vaccination exercise commenced, some members of the public, including medical practitioners, had expressed concerns about the side effects the drugs could have on the children.

In an interview with OBSERVER Media, the Minister for Health, Wellness and the Environment, Mowlyn Joseph, said participation so far has been good and “we have not had any negative results coming from the programme.”

He added, “The programme has been good. Two months ago we heard about 6,000 children have been vaccinated so far, and we are now going to take the next step to go into the schools, speak to the authorities to make sure the programme continues.”

The minister believes Antigua and Barbuda has one of the best HPV vaccination programmes in the Caribbean, and attributes the public’s participation to his ministry’s public education exercises. “It took us a while,” Joseph said.

“We had a meeting before we embarked on the vaccination programme and we had the doctors lined up to answer the questions, and I think . . . they were satisfied that we were not just jumping into things, and the signs were supporting the whole programme of vaccines, and Antiguans have embraced it.”

Participation in the programme is voluntary and the vaccine is administered free of charge at health clinics across the island. The HPV virus causes almost all cervical cancers in women, in addition to other cancers and genital warts in both males and females