Saturday, April 20, 2024

Single dose HPV vaccine now available at health facilities countrywide


The Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in many countries. This infection can cause cervical and other cancers affecting the genital areas, including the throat. While previously two doses of the HPV vaccine were recommended for adolescents, the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) has approved a vaccine that only requires a single dose. This is in part of a recommendation by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, who have stated that a single dose is sufficient to protect against an initial or persistent HPV infection.
In San Pedro Town, the HPV vaccine is available at the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II. Any islander interested in this vaccine can visit the clinic and request information at the front desk. There is no cost for the vaccine. This injection is also available for children in Standard 4 at the primary school level and ten-year-old children who may be out of school. The ministry added that students can obtain it through a school vaccine program. In San Pedro, nurses administer vaccinations at individual schools when requested.
HPV includes a widespread group of viruses that usually causes no symptoms in both males and females. All people ages 9 to 45 are advised to get the vaccine for protection against the infection. The HPV vaccine protects against up to nine types of the virus, in particular HPV types 16 and 18. These are considered the most dangerous causes of cervical cancer. It is recommended that children get the vaccine, so they are fully protected years before they become sexually active.
This infection spreads through intimacy, and oral sex with someone infected can lead to contracting the disease. Thus, the importance of getting the vaccine for protection against HPV or an initial infection.
Since November 2022, MOHW has been offering HPV tests at its public health centers countrywide. This was announced during the second anniversary of the launch of the Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem by the World Health Organization. The ministry noted that over 90% of cervical cancer is caused by this virus. According to the statistics, it is the second most common type of cancer among women in Belize.

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