Over the past 37 years, Guyana has been free of some vaccine preventable diseases. This, according to information released by the Public Health Ministry, is a direct result of parents making the effort to uphold their civil responsibility to have their children vaccinated from birth.
This has therefore allowed for the local childhood immunisation programme to become a natural process which has created the conditions for Guyana to be free of multiple diseases. Included in this list of diseases that the local health sector has been efficiently guarding against are: measles, diphtheria and polio.
According to information publicised by the Public Health Ministry, the consent given when the child is young is communicated by the parent taking the child to the health centre to be immunised.
But the Ministry has added another vaccine to its list of vaccines being offered in its vaccination programme. This is the HPV vaccine which has been introduced to help the fight against cancer, in particular cervical cancer.
However, there has been some controversy surrounding the administration of this vaccine. This has resulted in many concerns being vocalised about related side effects of the vaccine. But the Ministry has sought to appease these concerns by moving to sensitise the public via the mass media. The Ministry, in so doing, has assured that while there are known side effects these are mild and are not known to be detrimental to the targeted young recipients (those from 9 to 13-years-old). Side effects outlined by the Ministry may include: mild fever and/or headache, temporary pain and swelling to the vaccination site and anxiety when receiving the vaccine. “There have been no other serious side effects scientifically proven to be associated with the vaccine,” the Ministry has assured.
However, like the other vaccines it offers to children, the Ministry has assured that it will never independently administer the HPV vaccine without the consent of parents or guardians.
The Ministry, moreover, has noted that if parents or guardian would prefer to not have the vaccine be administered to their children, they have an option to ‘opt out’. This, however, means that their children will not be afforded the protection this vaccine is expected to offer, the Ministry has warned.