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Doctors support Ministry plan for vaccine

By Susan Mohammed

The Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association is in support of the Ministry of Health's plan to offer Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines to 11 and 12-year-old girls.

The association's public relations officer Dr Austin Trinidade said the vaccine may be new to Trinidad and Tobago but had been used in Australia, the United States and England.

He noted that persons speaking out against the vaccine were arguing that the vaccine had side effects.

A programme to dispense the vaccination across primary schools has been shelved after one week, following objections after the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) opposed the vaccine being administered.

"But all vaccines has the potential to have side effects," said Trinidade.

"But the benefits so much outweigh the side effects. Here we have vaccine that can protect young ladies from getting cervical cancer. It is such a stretch of the imagination that giving this vaccine will make girls become sexually active.

The vaccine does not prevent against STDs or HIV, or pregnancy.

The CEBM said in a statement on Wednesday that it was concerned that the Ministry of Health had intervened in the schools without consultation.

Trinidade said, "I myself am a very staunch Catholic. And I cannot see the objection to it. It is not like we are giving out condoms, or birth control pills or something like that. They are giving out something that protects you, a potentially killer disease."

Trinidade said the Executive Council of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Council was expected to discuss the issues surrounding the suspension of the HPV vaccine at their monthly meeting held on Thursday at its headquarters in Chaguanas.

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