The Human Papilloma Virus vaccine is different from the long-awaiting COVID-19 vaccine that arrived in the country on Tuesday 2nd March 2021.
The Human Papilloma Virus is a virus that causes cervical cancer and the latter causes the abnormal growth of the cervix, which normally starts in the lower part of the abdomen.
Aja Kanteh, communication assistant at the Ministry of Health, said HPV is a skin cancer that is spread by skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity with an infected person.
“Cervical cancer is caused by sexual behaviour, family history, smoking, diet, multiple pregnancies, low income among others,” she said.
The symptoms of cervical cancer, she added, include abnormal vaginal bleeding, bleeding after menopause, bleeding and pain during intercourse, longer and heavier menstrual bleeding among others.
“The PHV vaccines are school-based vaccines and they are meant for children at the age of nine (9) to fourteen (14).
“The PHV vaccine is meant to fight against cervical cancer at the tender age of a girl child,” she added.
The PHV vaccine, she added, was introduced in the West Coast Region of The Gambia between 2014 and 2016 among girls in grade 3; the targeted grade in schools.
Sanjally Trawally, deputy Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health said the cervical cancer vaccination has been taking place in this country and it is meant to prevent children from the life threatening disease.
“When it comes to vaccination, The Gambia is rank as one of the outstanding countries in the world. People should understand that the PHV vaccine is different from the COVID-19 vaccine and it is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO)," Trawally noted.
Trawally alluded to the fact that many people are given false information that the PHV vaccine is the same as the COVID-19 vaccine, which, he said, is not true. He thus urged parents to allow their children to be vaccinated.
Vaccination, he said, is a right and for someone to discourage somebody from being vaccinated is a criminal act.
"We want the public to know that the vaccines are reviewed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and they would not have allowed the use of such a vaccine if it was harmful to human life,” he concluded.