HPV vaccine available for boys in Westmoreland
ST JAMES, Jamaica – The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is available at the Westmoreland Public Health Department for boys aged nine to 14, to reduce their risk of getting genital warts.
This was disclosed by Medical Officer of Health for Westmoreland Dr Marcia Graham, at the monthly meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation in Savanna-la-Mar, on Thursday.
“The HPV vaccine was initially offered to our girls nine to 15 years old getting two doses of the vaccine. That has been reduced to just one dose of vaccine for the girls that are between nine and 15. We are also offering it to the boys, nine to 14 years old, because they are at risk for genital warts that this virus can cause, and if they get infected, when they have sexual relations with girls they can infect the girls and the girls can get cervical cancer. So, we are offering a more comprehensive approach to prevention,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to genital warts or cancer. Nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be attributed to HPV infection.
Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Jamaican women.
Dr Graham also noted that the HPV vaccine is now available to females up to age 26.
Meanwhile, the medical officer of health said that the parish’s public health department continues its immunisation programme in its mission to prevent childhood diseases.
She encouraged parents and guardians to ensure that their children are fully immunised. “Getting your [children] fully immunised for their age is one way to protect them against avoidable, preventable diseases, and so we continue our exercise for all children 12 years and under. We need to ensure that they have all the vaccines that they should have had,” Dr Graham said.
She implored schools to ensure that they have a copy of each student’s vaccination record on file before the end of this month, “so when the health team comes to visit, we can use the same to ensure that it is up to date. We have been working with some schools, and there are times when the team goes there and the vaccination record is not on the students’ file”.
“We cannot wait until the end of May to do all of them, and so we would have asked some of you, given you advanced notice. We are asking you for your cooperation, so that we can ensure we are protecting our children in a fulsome way,” Dr Graham said.