Church changes mind on vaccine decision

PORT OF SPAIN – The Roman Catholic Church has made a U-turn on its decision not to allow the inoculation of female students in their schools with the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine.

The vaccination programme is piloted by the Ministry of Health but the decision by the Catholic Board several weeks ago caused the ministry to rethink its plans and offer the service instead at all public health facilities in Trinidad.

The church, however, sent out a release yesterday, saying it had agreed to allow the Gardasil vaccine to be administered in its schools but under specific conditions. The conditions require the ministry to provide full disclosure about the vaccine to enable parents to make an informed decision.

The information requested by the church includes the virus strains not covered by the vaccine, the period for which the vaccine is effective, situations in which the vaccine should not be used and the full range of possible side effects.

The church also called for a “systematic programme” to monitor students after they receive the vaccine. The church’s initial concerns stemmed from the fact that Gardasil’s United States Food and Drug Administration approval had been fast-tracked over a two-year period and there had been reports of negative side effects, including death. The release said an agreement had been reached with the ministry to make certain amendments to the brochure.

These amendments would include inserting information that will encourage cancer screening and pap smears in later life and locations where this can be obtained and the full range of side effects.

“The archdiocese shares the concern of the ministry over the high incidence of cervical cancer in T&T and supports the goal of reducing the incidence of this disease and preventing deaths that result from cervical cancer,” said the release. (Guardian)

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