Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis on Friday urged parents to give their consent for their daughters to be given the free human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine against cervical cancer in school as it is safe.
This is the first year the vaccine is being administered to all girls aged between 12 and 13 in all schools, state and private. The HPV vaccine is not mandatory, and it will be administered in the same way as the rest of the vaccinations offered in schools for free by the state.
This year the vaccine is intended for all girls born between January 2003 and December 31, 2004.
“With the beginning of the school year, parents will be notified through the school medical service regarding the vaccination process of their children, while their written consent is required,” Pamboridis said.
This quadrivalent vaccine is to be granted in two doses according to the European Medicines Agency guidelines, the ministry said, and “it is perfectly safe”.
“The vaccination offers 100 per cent protection against the two main types of the virus, the 18 and 16, that are responsible for 70 per cent of all cancers, while offering additional protection against types 6 and 11, responsible for 90 per cent of genital warts,” Pamboridis said.
“The vaccination shields girls from a cancer characterised by the World Health Organisation as the deadliest form of cancer worldwide,” he said.
He added that cervical cancer is the second most frequent form among women, while seven women in Cyprus die from it each year.
He said that it is safe as scientists have observed for decades women who were administered the vaccine and they noticed that they did not experience any serious side effect apart from the usual side effects presented in all vaccines, such as pain and redness at the vaccination point, while in two per cent of the cases “sometimes generalised reactions are presented such as fever and headache”.
“Therefore, I urge parents to give their consent for their children to be vaccinated,” he said.
Regarding the prevention of cervical cancer, Pamboridis said that “certainly the vaccine does not replace the Pap smear”.
He also said that the vaccine is already administered in over 100 countries worldwide, while Cyprus is today the 24th EU member state to “adopt the HPV vaccine”.
To-date, the HPV vaccine was only offered by private doctors but its high cost was preventing many parents from having their children vaccinated.