Public Health Ministry taking HPV Vaccines to Private Schools

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The Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with international partners is rolling out its Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) campaign in schools in its fight against cervical cancer. During this campaign nine to 13-year old primary and secondary school girls are vaccinated against HPV to fight the “second leading killer of Guyanese women.”

Dr Ertenisa Hamilton

In the coming week, the campaign which started in public schools in Bartica, Region Seven will be going to 24 privately-owned schools in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica).

According to the Ministry’s Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Officer Dr. Ertenisa Hamilton, notices on the issue will be sent to all private institutions on the East Coast and East Bank of Demerara and Georgetown early next week.

The Ministry sought to dispel claims of side effects being suffered from the vaccine including site pain, sore throat, swelling, itching, fever, headaches, nausea, tiredness, joint or muscle pain vomiting, insomnia (lack of sleep) runny or stuffy nose or  tooth pain, noting that “there were no adverse effects from the administration of the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, in Guyana, despite publicly-voiced fears.”

Globally, there are some 530,000 new cases of cervical cancer detected annually which kills approximately 266,000 women or 50.2 percent.

In the Caribbean, Guyana ranks highest with an incidence rate of 46.9 percent and a mortality rate of 21.0 per 100,000 persons. Cervical cancer kills an estimated 100 Guyanese women every year, making it the leading cause of mortality among Guyanese women.

Guyana’s 40-year old Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) currently provides coverage for 16 antigens: Poliovirus, Pneumococcal bacteria, Yellow Fever, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B, Haemophilus Influenza, Tetanus, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Varicella, Meningococcal bacteria, HPV, Rotavirus, Tuberculosis.

In the next six months under the EPI several projects will be launched including the introduction of the birth dose of Hepatitis B vaccine and the design and piloting of the electronic vaccine records.

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