Jamaica’s Ministry of Health has announced its intention to introduce the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine this year to schoolgirls in the fight against cervical cancer. This announcement has been the source of much debate about and questions about what exactly the HPV vaccine is. Here are five facts surrounding the debate:
- Cancer of the cervix is the second most common cancer in Jamaican women, after breast cancer.
- A study in the United States revealed that within four years of the vaccine’s introduction, HPV decreased by over 50 per cent among females aged 14 to 19.
- Jamaica’s Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, said that an improved public health system should decrease delay in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of persons living with cancer, hence the preventative vaccine measure.
- All cancers have a high chance of cure through early detection and proper treatment.
Here are some facts about the HPV vaccine:
1. It prevent infections with HPV types 16 and 18, two high-risk HPVs that cause about 70% of cervical cancers and an even higher percentage of some of the other HPV-associated cancers
2. Common Side Effects of HPV Vaccine are: Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given, fever, headache or feeling tired, nausea, muscle or joint pain.
3. Currently, it appears that the vaccines protect against HPV for at least 6 years. Studies suggest that the vaccines are effective at providing long-lasting protection.
5. Additional studies need to be done to see how long vaccinated people remain immune and whether booster shots are needed.