The controversy surrounding vaccination for preventing cervical cancer, one of the most deadly cancers to afflict women in India, refuses to die.A week ago, Prime Minister’s office shot a letter to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to examine the safety and efficacy of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for preventing Cervical Cancer. On the other hand, Delhi state government around the same time has announced a roll-out of free HPV vaccine jabs for school girls.After receiving a complaint from Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) based organisation Swadeshi Jagran Manch wrote to the PMO objecting the introduction of HPV vaccine in India, MoHFW’s office of Deputy Commissioner (Immunization) has been asked to look into the complaint.In the meanwhile, East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has started a drive to vaccinate up to 5,000 girls between 11 to 13 years with the controversial HPV vaccine. “We will identify school girls who are eligible to take this vaccine, link the vaccination to their Aadhaar card, train teachers to seek parents consent , arrange transport to take the girls to Delhi State Cancer Institute and get them vaccinated,” said Dr Sharda Jain, Chairperson, Delhi Gynaecology Forum.When questioned about controversies around it’s safety and efficacy, Jain retorted, “It is absolutely safe to administer HPV vaccine to girls.”Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of SJM said, “While health is a state subject, the state government should also keep in mind the safety of it’s population while administering a vaccine.”The letter forwarded by PMO office to MoHFW stated, “It has been alleged that HPV vaccine has highest rate of adverse effect among all vaccines in use as per World Health Organisation.”

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Controversy around vaccine gets muckier