The Health Ministry is today to begin offering a vaccine against the Human papillomavirus, HPV, to girls seven and older, amid public concerns.

It’s part of a $100-million programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

The move is a measure by the government to protect girls against cervical cancer caused by HPV infection, which takes the lives of hundreds of women in the country each year.

Speaking at an HPV media sensitization forum at the University of the West Indies’ Mona Campus on Friday, Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton says almost 23,000 girls will be targeted.

He says two doses will be given six months apart for full protection.

Dr. Tufton says the vaccine is not mandatory. He’s also assuring the public that the programme is not trial and error.

This, after concerns were raised by members of the public that the introduction of the vaccine, which is a weakened form of the virus, may result in harm.

The Health Ministry says it’s also received some complaints that it’s using young girls as guinea pigs.

But Dr. Tufton says that over 200-million doses of the vaccine have been given to women and girls worldwide, adding that more than 70 countries have already introduced the HPV vaccine.