Experts in Colombia noted via teleconference that vaccination against this virus is safe; they assured that there is no scientific evidence to the contrary.
Bogotá, DC, April 28, 2014. Scientific experts assembled by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection said on national teleconference that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is one of the safest in the world because before being placed in the market, studies were conducted in phase three with over 70 thousand women.
Diego Alejandro Garcia, Coordinator of the Immunization group of the Ministry, said that 170 million women in the world have been vaccinated against the virus that generates the second leading cause of death among Colombian women.
At the start of the teleconference, Colombian expert Nubia Muñoz said: “the vaccine is effective because it not only prevents against cervical cancer but also against other oropharyngeal cancers, with effectiveness rates above 90 per cent.”
For his part, the Director of the National Cancer Institute, Raul Murillo, stressed that “it is a public health problem in Latin America and parents should be wary of not vaccinating their children because 7,500 cases occur annually in Colombia and some three thousand women die from this cause.”
Lina Trujillo, representing the Colombian Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, explained to viewers that: “the vaccine does not have attenuated virus but contraindications are pregnancy or anaphylactic shock. But before application, parents are able to tell if the vaccines have generated some effect on their children. Adult women can be immunized but our immune system is not as effective because we have already begun sex activity.”
In that vein, Sandra Beltran, infectious disease specialist pediatrician representing scientific associations in the country, explained that: “the Colombian associations of pediatrics and infectious diseases endorsed the HPV vaccine after analyzing studies pre and post exposure in the two vaccines with the respective antibody reaction and possible adverse events, so we decided on this vaccine; it’s very beneficial for our girls because we have the best vaccination schedule in the Americas.”
To support this statement, Dr. Nubia Muñoz was radical in stating that the vaccine only produces a local injection site reaction but these signs disappear in a few days. “There have been anti-vaccination groups, without any scientific evidence, that are opposed to the vaccine and blame deaths or serious things like autoimmune diseases, neuritis or seizures on vaccines, but studies ten years ago, before marketing, concluded that vaccination continues to be very safe and this is how the World Health Organization certifies it.”
During the national videoconference, calls were received from residents of Granada (Antioquia); Bogotá (Capital District), Cali (Valle del Cauca), and Villeta (Cundinamarca), among other municipalities, with concerns that were answered by the panel of experts. “People should be aware that adverse events may include the genetic load and whoever has concerns should approach the National Health Institute and the Ministry of Health,” said Sandra Beltran.
In this respect, García said that the country has been misinformed and there is no scientific study to indicate that the vaccination has serious contraindications. “Keep in mind that at adolescence, some autoimmune diseases appear, but they are not associated with the vaccine. The opinion and recommendation of WHO and the American Academy is to vaccinate girls.”
The Director of the National Cancer Institute added that: “there are 15 HPV types that generate cervical cancer and two of them are responsible for 70% of the cancer cases, which are prevented by the vaccine and thus the risk of this disease is reduced.”
Children and youth from the Justo Victor Charry District School of Bogota and their parents attended the RTVC auditorium, and expressed their experiences with vaccination. “I did not suffer any effect but my friends had fever and vomiting because of nervous reactions. At school we were informed that it was good to be vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer. I recommend other girls to get vaccinated,” said Daniela Castañeda.
Another student asked about the effects if she missed a dose. Sandra Beltran said that it is important to both receive the whole schedule and to have a robust sex education because early onset of sexual intercourse exposes girls to this type of virus.
Keep in mind...
Sandra Beltran: it is clear that adequate sex education is one of the main strategies to deal with this and other diseases, therefore it is important to have protected sex and avoid promiscuity.
Diego Garcia: the country made a quick decision in May 2012 and in August of that same year when it introduced the HPV vaccine and now we are part of that 80% of women in the Americas who are already vaccinated. No country in the world has suspended administration of the HPV vaccine.
Raul Murillo: In the world today, very few people remain celibate and the likelihood of HPV infection is about 80%; it is important to get vaccinated against HPV.
Lina Trujillo: The vaccines prevent infection and there is no cure for the virus; what we gynecologists do is remove the lesions it produces.
Carlos Castro: Give a round of applause to the government because this is a state policy for safeguarding the lives of our girls. Hurrah for women!