FAQ about HPV — Part 1

Sunday, October 07, 2018

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For the month of October Your Health Your Wealth, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, will be discussing the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which protects against cancers including cervical cancer.

Q: What is human papillomavirus (HPV?

A: HPV is a group of viruses that are the major cause of cervical cancer in women. There are approximately 200 types of HPV. At least 14 types have been found to cause cancer, and 70 per cent of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV types 16 and 18.

Q: Is my child really at risk for HPV?

A: HPV is a very common infection that can cause cervical cancer. In Jamaica, cervical cancer is the second- leading cause of cancer-related deaths in females. Giving the vaccine now will help protect your child later.

Q: Why do they need HPV vaccine at such an early age?

A: Like all vaccines, the earlier we give the vaccine the better the chance of protection. The immune response to the HPV vaccine is better in the pre-teens and early teens. Also, the vaccine works better if given before exposure to the HPV.

Q: I'm worried about the safety of the HPV Vaccine. Do you think it is safe?

A: Yes, HPV vaccination is very safe. Like all substances, including food or medication, vaccines may cause some reactions. These are often mild, such as redness, pain or swelling at the injection site, mild fever and nausea, or upset stomach. These usually go away in a few days.

Q: Would you recommend HPV vaccine for my child?

A: Yes, I would. HPV vaccination is a safe, effective and reliable method of providing long-lasting protection against the most common viruses that cause cervical cancer.

Q: My daughter is in grade eight. Can she get the vaccine?

A: The Ministry of Health is only offering the vaccine to grade seven girls at this time. As your daughter is no longer in grade seven, it is recommended that she gets the vaccine privately.

Answers compiled by Dr Melody Ennis of the Ministry of Health.

What are your concerns, what are you not sure about? We would love to hear from you. Submit your questions to You can also contact the Ministry of Health at 1-888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) or

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