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Health ministry to start administering second HPV dose April

Monday, January 22, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Ministry of Health will begin dispensing the second dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to grade-seven girls by April.

In October 2017, the ministry began administering the vaccine and, to date, 5,009 girls or 22 per cent of the target population of 22,500 have been inoculated.

“Remember there were two doses,” said Portfolio Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton.

“So, those who got one already, in six months' time they should get the second, which would complete the dosage,” he told JIS News.

The $100-million HPV programme is being undertaken by the Government to protect girls against cervical cancer.

The disease takes the lives of hundreds of women in the country per year and hundreds of thousands more worldwide.

The vaccine is being administered to girls between ages nine and 14 and is free of cost. It is not mandatory.

Meanwhile, the ministry will be reviewing its public-education campaign in order to achieve greater take-up of the HPV vaccine.

“Those who did not take up the offer, we believe many will the next time around, once we engage in more public education and public information. So, we are now reviewing the process, making adjustments where necessary and to try and get those who never came on board at all on board,” Dr Tufton said.

Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality in Jamaica, and remains a significant public-health concern.

Current estimates indicate that every year, 392 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer; 185 die from the disease, with the majority of deaths occurring in women between 40 and 64 years of age.

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