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Catholic Church lifts ban on HPV vaccination

THE Archdiocese of Port of Spain has rescinded its ban on the provision in schools of a vaccine against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), saying yesterday the Ministry of Health may proceed—under certain conditions.

In a statement yesterday, the Catholic Church said the ministry must provide "full disclosure" about the vaccine to parents, including possible side effects, the period for which the vaccine is effective and which strains of HPV are not covered.

A system must also be introduced to monitor pupils after they receive the vaccine, the Church said.

The Church and its arms, including the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM), had two weeks ago demanded the vaccines be pulled from schools, saying the side effects may be proven to be serious.

The Church was joined in its objections by other denominational bodies, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) and the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association (ASJA).

In yesterday's news release, the Church stated: "The Archdiocese shares the concern of the ministry over the high incidence of cervical cancer in Trinidad and Tobago and supports the goal of reducing the incidence of this disease and preventing deaths that result from cervical cancer. It therefore encourages all students to take positive steps to avoid this disease."

The Church's decision comes after a team led by Vicar General Msgr Robert Llanos, which included CEBM chairman Dr Roland Baptiste and CEO Sharon Mangroo, met with representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) at Archbishop's House on February 1.

Dr Krishna Kumar Sundaraneedi, Medical Director, Health Programmes and Technical Support Services, led the Ministry's team, which included Dr Sherene Kalloo, Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, and Dr Yitades Gebre of PAHO.

The Church has again called on young people to reserve sexual activity for marriage in the fight against sexually-transmitted diseases.

"Parents are urged to learn the medical facts concerning this vaccine and to consider the spiritual, emotional, moral, and physical health of their daughters in making their decision about it," the Church stated.

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