HPV campaign recommences at schools, health centres

…as vaccine now available for boys

Provision has now been made for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination to be given to boys in the school population as part of efforts to end the scourge of the disease and prevent its spread.
The Public Health Ministry has informed the public that the vaccination is now extended to both males and females who are 16 years of age.
The Education Ministry has collaborated on this project to make the vaccine accessible at schools from a health-care worker. Other places providing the vaccine include the health centres, private medical facilities, and the Ministry’s Vaccination Centre.
The campaign, which commenced on February 11, will come to an end on March 13. As such, children within the stipulated age group are encouraged to get vaccinated early and protect themselves.
The decision to include boys in the programme was long in the making. During an interview with Maternal and Child Health Officer, Dr Oneka Scott back in September, she noted that the decision was taken after health-care assistants and other stakeholders observed the immense necessity of the vaccination programme.
She emphasised on the demands that were placed by parents to have boys included in the action plan, since many schools abroad were currently on board with this initiative. This will ensure that both genders are protected at an early juncture.
“There is a great demand. There are a lot of people writing the Ministry and asking to give it to their boys because more and more parents are travelling [and] they are sensitised to the way the vaccine is being given in foreign territories, so we have a great demand for two things. One is to extend the age group of the girls and the second demand is to give it to boys,” she explained.
It was noted that boys are transmitting the virus too which can lead to various forms of cancer.
“It could be a sign for us, but surely, there are great benefits for us in protecting and vaccinating boys, ‘cause boys can get genital cancer too from HPV. They can get penile cancer, anal cancer, and throat cancer,” she said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently claimed that there were increased cases of throat cancer in the United States of America in the height of increased HPV incidence.
Throughout last year, an HPV campaign was rolled out in schools but was limited to girls of a lower age range.