HPV vaccination programme continues in schools
The vaccination of young girls with Gardasil to protect against cervical cancer is continuing, with advocates against the vaccine saying their concerns are being washed away.
On the East Coast of Demerara, a medical team headed by Dr. Ameeka Breedy recently commenced a school intervention programme to educate the students and parents on the importance of the HPV vaccines.
Dr. Breedy noted that her team comprises mid wives and nurses. The team has so far visited the Cove and John and Victoria Primary schools.
Earlier this year a group of concerned citizens, including Ms. Sherlina Nageer, staged a protest in front of the Ministry of Health, to express a number of concerns surrounding the implementation of the HPV vaccine. Among these concerns were the side effects of the HPV vaccine, the evidence or data to show that this vaccine is indeed needed in Guyana, and the manner in which the vaccine was introduced.
During an invited comment, yesterday, Ms. Nageer stated that it is clear that the Ministry of Health is not open to criticisms and views from the public as it relates to the HPV vaccine. However, she said that it is a good initiative that the C.C. Nicholson Health Centre has undertaken to raise awareness on this vaccine.
Dr Breedy said that the response from both these schools were negative since the parents were not educated or informed on the importance of the HPV vaccine, hence the majority of them were not supportive towards the initiative.
However, she said that even though the response has not been what they expected, the team will continue to carry out their visits to the schools with hopes of ensuring that the parents of these young girls understand the importance and benefits of the vaccine.
The team will be conducting its visit to President’s College during next week.
The Health Ministry, in January, introduced Gardasil, a vaccine to defend against cervical cancer to Grade Six girls in Regions Three, Four, Five and Six. At the official launch of the new vaccine on January 11 at the East La Penitence Health Centre, several girls between the ages of 11 – 13 years old from the East La Penitence Primary School were the first to benefit from the vaccine.
Over the years, Guyana’s vaccination programme has received much recognition internationally for its extensive coverage of over 98 percent. Most recently, its robust immunisation programme received accolade for its efficient and sustained vaccination coverage.
The programme has been a success since it commenced in the early 1970s and has resulted in the eradication of illnesses such as polio in 1962, yellow fever in 1968, measles in 1991 and whooping cough in 2000. Success also hinges on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four and five which are aimed at reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, respectively.