The Ministry of Health has sent experts to examine why over 200 girls in a small town have been hospitalized since May, according to official sources.
Over 200 girls have been hospitalized in the town of El Carmen de Bolivar since May, creating widespread panic about an HPV vaccine they had recently been injected with.
Last weekend, 120 girls sought emergency treatment, and 61 remain hospitalized. At least 15 more girls were admitted Tuesday, according to El Universal.
Colombia’s Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria went on national radio Wednesday to assure the public that the HPV vaccine is not responsible for causing the illness, and criticized media coverage for alarming the 2.9 million Colombian women who have received the vaccine.
Authorities still do not know what has cost hundreds of girls in El Carmen de Bolivar to be hospitalized, but the Ministry of Health reported that it has dispatched a team of toxicologists to Bolivar, as well as an epidemiology team, to look for answers.
However, parents of the teenagers still blame the Gardasil vaccine against cervical cancer, which all of the girls received in recent months. The father of one hospitalized girl told Caracol Radio that “The government should prohibit the vaccine, because it is killing our girls.”
The protesting parents, who have formed an association, claim to be in discussion with worldwide organizations supporting their position.
The Ministry of health has responded vigorously by emphasizing the safety of the vaccine, and reminding the public that cervical cancer kills 3,300 Colombian women every year. Two 2.9 million girls have received the vaccine in Colombia, which is intended to reduce the 6,800 new cases reported each year. Worldwide, more than 170 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been administered.
Globalmente la oposición a la vacuna contra el VPH ha venido de organizaciones religiosas y grupos anticientíficos.
— Alejandro Gaviria (@agaviriau) August 26, 2014
- Hundreds of teenage girls in Colombia struck by mystery illness (Global News)
- Padres de niñas enfermas protestan en El Carmen de Bolívar (Caracol Radio)
- Piden esperar resultados por caso de niñas en El Carmen de Bolívar (El Universal)