HPV vaccine available

Make appointment before programme ends

More than 100 girls in Cayman have
been vaccinated against Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical
cancer since the inoculations were made available on island last year.

According to Dr. Sook Yin, medical
director of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, just 58 doses of the vaccine
remain from this batch and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis to
girls aged 11 to 17 who schedule an appointment with the Public Health

HPV is a common virus, some strains
of which is sexually transmitted, and can lead to pre-cancerous and cancerous
lesions of the cervix, vagina and vulva, as well as genital warts.

“In order for the vaccination to be
fully effective, girls need to receive their immunisation prior to having been
exposed to the virus, so it is really important that they receive the course
when they are in their pre-teens,” said Ms Yin, who has vaccinated her own
daughter against the virus.

Two strains of the virus are
attributed to causing 70 per cent of all cases of cervical cancer – the fifth
leading cause of cancer death among women and one of the most commonly diagnosed
cancers in Caribbean women.

The HPV vaccine works on these two
strains as well as another two strains that cause 90 per cent of all cases of
genital warts.

Launched in August of 2009, the HPV
vaccine programme is provided by the Cayman Islands Cancer Society in
partnership with the Heath Services Authority.

Parental consent is required.

Medical professionals say girls
should be vaccinated before they become sexually active as HPV is passed from
one person to another through skin-to-skin contact; full intercourse does not
need to take place for transmission to occur.

Ms Yin urged all parents and
guardians to do the same. “It’s a vaccination against the possibility of
developing cancer. In my mind that makes it a clear choice,” she said.

make an appointment for a HPV vaccination, call the Public Health Department on