My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica


Sunday, December 10, 2017

How to connect TV to Computer using HDMI, Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter or Google Chromecast

In this era of cord-cutting and 4K gaming, connecting you TV to you computer is an essential skill. This is especially true if you have a very large screen QLED TV and you really want to see the higher resolution details in your graphic designs or a game you love.

So how do you achieve this holy grail of computer-TV interface?

How to connect TV-Computer - HDMI is the best

The easiest way to get your TV hooked up to a desktop or laptop is to just interconnect them. If you PC or laptop has a HDMI port, you can connect a HDMI cable between them as shown below:

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There are a few different HDMI standards; the main thing to consider is the ports, which retain their shape no matter what standard. There is currently a HDMI 2.0, but this is for 4K gaming, which is around the corner but not here yet as explained in my blog article entitled “Why US$39 Amazon Fire TV Stick challenges @Roku and @Google Chromecast Streaming Sticks”. 

All HDMI Cables are the same, regardless of claims of cables being better than others; this is just a sales gimmick to get you to pay more money for the same cable. If you have a computer with a VGA output, best to get one of those HDM Cables with the VGA end or a VGA adapter as shown below.
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Once you've plugged your HDMI cable into the TV, use the HDMI or Input button to list all of the ports currently in use on your TV. Just cycle through them till you find your PC!
But what if you have a short HDMI cable? Then maybe wireless is for you.

How to connect TV-Computer - Wireless via Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter or Google Chromecast

Sometimes a long cable just isn’t enough. So for you, there are a few options. If you’re running Windows 10 on your PC, you can take advantage of the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter.

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The steps to use it are as follows:

1.      Plug the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter into your TV’s HDMI port
2.      Plug the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter little USB jack into one of your TV’s USB ports
3.      Click on your notification center on the bottom-right corner of your screen
4.      Click on the Connect button

Good to note that this option will cost you $40 or $50, depending on where you purchase the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter.

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Also, it's good enough to watch movies, but gaming or anything with more than 30 frames per second gets garbled and becomes unwatchable or unplayable.

You can also use a Chromecast to cast directly to your TV from Google Chrome on MacOS or Windows 10.

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All you need to do is follow the following steps:

1.      Plug your Chromecast into your TVs
2.      Start Google Chrome on your computer.
3.      Click the little sideways ellipses at the end of your search bar
4.      Click Cast.
5.      Select your Chromecast and you are good to go

Remember sharing is caring so share this with your friends trying to connect their TV to their computer.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Why VolkerWessels Plastic Roads for Netherlands is a good way to recycle Plastic

“Plastic offers all kinds of advantages compared to current road construction, both in laying the roads and maintenance.”

Rolf Mars, the director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, KWS Infra, commenting on the plan to use plastic to pave roads in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Jamaicans struggling with plastic blocking our drains, take note!!!

The Netherlands could become the first country to pave its streets with plastic bottles.

This after the Rotterdam city council decided to use plastic as a greener alternative to asphalt as reported in the article “Netherlands to Build Roads With Recycled Plastic From the Ocean”, published Oct 21, 2017 by Joao Freita, Good News Network.

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They're actually going forward with this crazy idea; a road made entirely from recycled plastic. Back then, Jaap Peters, from the city council’s engineering bureau, was upbeat on this idea on paper, quote: “We’re very positive towards the developments around PlasticRoad. Rotterdam is a city that is open to experiments and innovative adaptations in practice. We have a ‘street lab’ available where innovations like this can be tested.”

So what are the advantages of using plastic instead of asphalt to pave roads?

VolkerWessels and Plastic Roads – Putting Plastic Waste to good use

The construction firm VolkerWessels had unveiled plans on Friday July 10th 2015 as noted in the article “Crazy paving: Rotterdam to consider trialling plastic roads”, published Friday 10 July 2015 15.36 BST, The UK Guardian.

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They plan to collect plastic from the ocean and recycle it to make the plastic roads. Not only will this gradually clean up all the plastic form the ocean, but it will also set a trend for the recycling of plastic to make other things.

For one, it requires  less maintenance than asphalt and can withstand greater extremes of temperature– between -40º to 176º Fahrenheit (-40º to 80ºC).. it can also be laid in a matter of weeks instead of months as lighter materials can also be transported more easily and efficiently as well.

Sections of the roads can prefabricated in a factory and transported, reducing on-site construction. This translates to shorter construction time and low maintenance and hence less congestion caused by roadworks.  Asphalt is responsible for 1.6m tons of CO2 emissions a year globally – 2% of all road transport emissions, so using plastic is good for the environment overall.

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Plastic roads are lighter, reducing the load on the ground. They can also be made to be hollow, easier to install cables and utility pipelines below the surface without having to worry about them. Cutting through plastic roads to make changes would require either a laser cutter, making them easier to repair, albeit that would be unlikely, given the durability and long life of plastic.

Studies suggest that nearly any type of plastic can be used. Scientists are already in the final stages of testing the safety of the material, with the first roads will be built later in 2017. Truly, this is god news for the plant that everyone can emulate!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How to find work in Jamaica at Call Centers - 5000 CSA's for Hinduja in 2018 paid JA$64000 monthly

“Jamaica was a great nearshore choice because of its language and cultural affinity to the United States. In the next three to five years, we expect to grow to 5,000. However, that will depend on two factors - business demand and supply”

Hinduja Global Solutions country head for Jamaica and vice-president for business development for the Latin America and the Caribbean, Anand Biradar, commenting on their expansion plans for 2018

Jamaica's is slowly becoming a Call Center Mecca!! Call Center peeps at Advantage Communications, Hinduja, Alorica, Xerox, Elephant and Startek, I've got news more interesting than this picture of Yendi Phillipps wearing ONLY bodypaint

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Hinduja Global Solutions is going for 5000 call center agent, double their current capacity as reported in the article “Hinduja To Double BPO Operations”, published Sunday October 8, 2017 by Avia Collinder, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Hinduja Global Solutions currently has 2,000 at three centers and has already invested US$10 million in its operations to date. Globally, the Hinduja Group employs 45,000 persons and serves clientele in:

1.      Banking
2.      Consumer electronics and technology
3.      Consumer packaged-goods industries
4.      Health care
5.      Insurance
6.      Retail
7.      Telecommunications and media

Its regional operations are mostly centered around Colombia but they got their start in 2013 with only 50 employees. Their latest push will see them investing some US$2 million in the new centre with the possibility to expand outside the capital, Kingston, where their operations are currently concentrated, being considered.

Hinduja Global Solutions currently has three (3) locations at the following places:

1.      Constant Spring Road in Kingston
2.      Worthington Terrace
3.      Saxthorpe Avenue

So any expansion may possibly include Portmore or Montego Bay to quote Hinduja Global Solutions country head for Jamaica and vice-president for business development for the Latin America and the Caribbean, Anand Biradar, quote: “In 2018 we might be looking at another facility, likely in Kingston. We might also look at Portmore or Montego Bay. To date, we have stayed in Kingston because it is closer to the airport and hotels, closer for our clients. We have also surveyed our workers and they want to come to the city and work”.

So what are the hurdles facing companies in the Call Center world?

Hinduja Global Solutions 5000 CSA's by 2018 - Challenges abound but the rewards are enticing

Jamaica less than 1% of a slice of the US$70 billion global BPO (business process outsourcing) business, but we have the advantage in terms of:

1.      Positioned in the Caribbean
2.      English speaking population
3.      Easily trainable workforce

But, there are challenges and issues that need to be addressed such as:

1.      Limited infrastructure
2.      Worker transport
3.      Worker attitudes
4.      Management shortages

Limited infrastructure is a problem, as very few facilities exist in Jamaica that is ready to just enter and set up business. Most BPO's have to spend money to renovate an unused building or office space in order to begin their services, quote: “There are not a whole lot of places with 'plug and play' facilities. It's just not there. This location was once a warehouse which we spent a lot of capital to upgrade”.

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That last issue is very important as, FLOW, which is owned by Liberty Global, is the only Carrier grade telecom Provider in Jamaica and the Caribbean. BPO's rely heavily on the service of FLOW, which is notoriously fickle and prone to outages as hinted by Anand Biradar, quote: “First is telecommunications infrastructure. We only have one company - Cable & Wireless. There is no major issue as yet, but it could become a problem”.

The skills pool in Jamaica is also low, a many of the workers are High School graduates and not college educated as noted by Anand Biradar, quote: “For those on the telephone, a lot have not finished college. They are capable when trained, but the lack of education shows in their maturity and their ability. It is a lot of heavy lifting to groom them”.

This is logical; Jamaicans going to college are unwilling to tolerate being verbally abused on the phone after having invested that much money to get their degrees. As such, the attrition rate of 40% per annum of Hinduja Global Solutions is typical of the industry in Jamaica.

This is even with salaries that are fairly high: US$200 to US$300 per hour fortnightly. CSA's get added incentives for achieving KPI (Key Performance Indices) such as Schedule Adherence, Quality and Handle time along with others. This translates to $32,000 per fortnight, or $63,000 per month or $845,000 annually, which is not bad for an unskilled worker living with their parents.

The trick is to save as much as possible and use the money to plan your escape. So with Hinduja Global Solutions aiming for 5000 by 2018, getting a job in a Call center may be the stepping stone you need to further your education and get a more ideal job elsewhere.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

University of Oxford says Cold Turkey better at quitting smoking than e-cigarettes

“A lot of people think that the common sense way to give up smoking is to reduce the amount they smoke before quitting,”

Nicola Lindson-Hawley of the University of Oxford, who led a new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

People who vape or smoke e-cigarettes, I have bad news for you, as the myth of vaping has been laid to rest. What the absolute best way to quit smoking?

According to researchers at the University of Oxford, cold-turkey is best as reported in the article “The Best Way to Quit Smoking, According to Science”, published March 14, 2016 by Mandy Oaklander, Time Magazine

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Researchers, who published their work in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, explored two options:

1.      Quitting cold turkey
2.      Gradually quitting  

Many have sought for answers on the best way to help people quit smoking. But which one works best?

University of Oxford and quitting smoking – Cold Turkey is best as e-cigarettes may be ineffective

Research done by Lindson-Hawley and her colleagues at the University of Oxford focused on 700 people in England who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day but who were planning to quit. They divided the group as follows:

1.      50% were randomly assigned to smoke normally until their quit date, then to stop abruptly i.e. the abrupt group
2.      50% gradually reduced their smoking over the 2 weeks leading up to the appointed day i.e. the gradual-cessation group

Both groups receive the following support:

1.      Behavioral counseling
2.      Nicotine patches
3.      Nicotine replacement therapy i.e. gum, lozenges and mouth spray

Good to note that the research didn’t look at e-cigarettes which the Ministry of Health may plan to make prescription as noted in my blog article entitled “How Ministry of Health and Jamaica Customs Agency e-cigarette Mix-up hints at Prescription e-cigarettes”. 

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The results that came out are quite surprising:

1.      49% of the abrupt group were successful quitters
2.      39% of the gradual-cessation group were successful quitters

The abrupt group did 25% better than the gradual-cessation group. But the real surprise came when the researchers examined smoking abstinence for 4 weeks after the quit date, and then 6 months later.

After 6 months:

1.      22% of the abrupt groups were still smoke-free
2.      15% of the gradual-cessation groups were still smoke-free

So clearly the cold-turkey method used by the abrupt group is still more successful, as a personal preference to quitting does not impact on the success of quitting to quote Dr. Lindson-Hawley: “Even if people wanted to quit gradually, they were more likely to quit if they used the abrupt method”.

It also suggests e-cigarettes may not be as good as often promoted by many albeit the quitting rates for the gradual-cessation group are not bad, just less as noted by Dr. Lindson-Hawley: “the quit rates we found in the gradual group were still quite good.........If there are people who really feel they can’t quit abruptly, and they want to quit gradually—otherwise they won’t try to quit at all—we still need to support them to do that.”

So the choice is still yours as to how you want to kick the habit.

Friday, October 20, 2017

US$250 Kindle Oasis is Amazon's first Waterproof Kindle in 10 years of Kindles

Amazon has finally done what many have been asking for: they've finally made a waterproof kindle...after 10 years of making the kindle.

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The new US$250 Kindle Oasis has the same name as last year’s model but now boasts an IPX8 waterproof rating. It’s also moved up in size from a 6-inch screen to a 7-inch screen. It has an aluminum back, not soft-touch plastic, making it feel cool and look more like a real gadget and not a kid's play thing.

The new e-reader has been tested in two meters of water for up to 60 minutes. It can withstand different water environments, like hot tubs, pools, and bubble baths. Amazon recommends that the Kindle be upright after it’s been submerged, given that the USB port is not waterproof.

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The Kindle Oasis itself got an upgrade and replaces last year model and joins Amazon's Kindle family; the original US$80 Kindle, the US$120 Kindle Paperwhite and the US$200Kindle Voyage.

It now has a fully internal battery while keeping the tapered side of the device at 3.4 millimeters. The e-paper display has a 300 ppi resolution that is brighter looking and it has the added feature of ambient light sensors that adjust the brightness based on being indoors or outdoors.

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For true e-reader fans out there, the Kindle Oasis bringing back page-turn buttons, plus the touchscreen page-turn option for a faster page-turning feel. There is also an Audible app but you have to use Bluetooth headphones or a speaker as it has no built in speakers.

Something for everyone as Amazon has finally brought us a Waterproof Oasis!!

Monday, October 16, 2017

IEA says Solar PV is fastest growing Energy source while Jamaica is adopting LNG

Solar is hot.

So says a IEA (International Energy Agency) report on sources of power around the world that shows solar as the fastest rising as noted in the article “IEA lifts five-year renewables forecast after record 2016”, published 3 October 2017 by Nina Chestney, Reuters

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The IEA said solar panels capacity grew 50% in 2016, with China accounting for almost half the expansion.

Solar accounted for 2/3rd of new Energy capacity in 2016, surpasses any other fuel as a source of power. The conditions in China have increased photovoltaic panel installations in that country, with the United States the second-largest market.  These conditions are mainly:

1.      Strong government targets
2.      Economic incentives
3.      Air pollution concerns

It is the first time that solar energy growth has surpassed other types of fuel albeit Coal still continues to grow despite global targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Still, the IEA expects global renewable electricity capacity to rise by more than 920 gigawatts, or 44%, by 2022, possibly beating coal by 2050 to quote IEA executive director Fatih Birol: “While coal remains the largest source of electricity generation in 2022, renewables close in on its lead. In 2016, renewable generation was 34 percent less than coal but by 2022 this gap will be halved to just 17 percent”.

As usual with statistics, the devil is in the details.

IEA renewable energy since 2016 - Catching up with Coal

The IEA’s forecast saw net additions to renewable energy capacity from the following hit 165 gigawatts (GW), 6% more than in 2015. To be clear, renewable energy in their report refers to:

1.      Hydropower
2.      Solar
3.      Wind
4.      Bioenergy
5.      Wave
6.      Tidal 

Of all these sources of renewable energy, Solar PV (Photovoltaic) grew more than 50% to more than 74 GW last year. This is the first time in history that Solar PV additions rose faster than the net growth in coal. So what of the growth of Renewables in the next 5 years?

IEA renewable energy forecast - LNG rises in Developing World countries

The Paris-based IEA, the West’s leading energy forecaster, had been criticized in the pas for the following:

1.      Underestimating the growth of renewables
2.      Over-emphasizing the continued role of fossil fuels

However, environment campaigners will be pleased to learn that renewable electricity generation is on a rise to quote IEA executive director Fatih Birol: “Our expectation is that (growth in) renewable electricity generation in the next five years will be higher than electricity generation from coal and natural gas times two”.

The IEA expects a 33% increase in renewable power generation to about 8,169 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2022, a significant rise from 6,012 TWh in 2016 as noted in the article “Time to shine: Solar power is fastest-growing source of new energy”, published Wednesday 4 October 2017 by Adam Vaughan, The Guardian.

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Albeit that could power China, India and Germany, LNG (liquid Natural Gas) will still grow in most Developing World Economies such as Jamaica to quote Fatih Birol: “Natural gas will continue to grow but moving toward the industrial and heating sectors. We still think LNG (liquefied natural gas) will be a key source for power generation especially in Asia, even though we expect renewables to grow as well”.

This is especially true of power hungry India, which could surpass the EU in 2022 to become the joint second-largest growth market alongside the United States.

Jamaica and Alternative Energy - Flirting with Solar while adopting LNG for Power and Vehicle Fuel

Here in Jamaica we are finally going LNG, with benefits expected due to lower energy costs for industry.

LNG may potentially lower the cost of motor vehicle fuel by being included as an alternative fuel as noted in the article “Introduction Of LNG To Jamaica Will Spur Development – Matalon”, Published Monday October 9, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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We are also going solar both in terms of individual businesses as well as on a large scale such as Content Solar as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “WRB Enterprises builds 20 MW Solar Farm in Content District, Clarendon”. 

Some companies have already committed to going solar such as Wisynco as noted in my blog article entitled “Wisynco Group 1 MW Solar Power Plant - British partnership with Padero Solar UK for conquest of Africa and India”. 

But with LNG in the mix, Jamaicans may soon have options not only for electricity but also for their vehicle fuel.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Why the Ministry of Health must vaccinate Jamaican Boys and Girls against the Human papilloma virus

Who knew vaccinating schoolchildren could stir up so much problems in Jamaica.

I am of course referring to mass vaccinations of grade seven for HPV (human papillomavirus vaccine) by the Ministry of Health as reported in the article “Ministry To Roll Out HPV Vaccine Amid Backlash”, published Saturday September 30, 2017 by Jodi-Ann Gilpin, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton as assured everyone that the girls are safe and they are not guinea pigs to test the vaccine before rolling out nationwide to girls in all grades, quote: “The ministry is not going to embark on anything that will put the population at risk - certainly not our young girls. This is not a trial-and-error programme and we are not using our people as guinea pigs. We are not trying to prove anything to the world, population or any pharmaceutical company or big-money interest. It is a tried and proven approach and a science that is intended to make our population healthy as it relates to the risk of cervical cancer”.

There are about 22,338 girls in Grade 7 based on 2016 entry data from the Ministry of Education.  So what really happened.

Ministry of Health and HPV Vaccinations – Ministry of Education call for halt of program

The Ministry of Health had begun vaccinating girls more than 20,000 grade seven girls islandwide on Friday 29th October 2017 as reported in the article “More Could Have Been Done, Tufton Says Of Controversial HPV Exercise”, published Tuesday October 3, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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So far only four high schools volunteered their Grade 7 as guinea pigs:

1.      Oberlin in west rural St Andrew
2.      Papine in eastern St Andrew
3.      Titchfield in Portland
4.      Happy Grove in Portland

Ministry of Health Dr Christopher Tufton reported only 309 females received the vaccine, while 21 said hell no. On Tuesday October 3, 2017 Grade 7 girls at the following schools were on the schedule to receive the HPV Vaccine:

1.      Westwood High School in Trelawny
2.      Muschett High in St James
3.      The Queen's School in St Andrew

So that's a lot of guinea pigs to keep track of, making this a mass experiment if it really was.

So concerned expressed by the Administration of several schools were voiced to the Minister of Education Minister Ruel Reid, as noted in the article “HPV Vaccine Programme Leaves Some School Admins Disgruntled”, published Tuesday October 3, 2017 by Jody Ann Gilpin, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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This as many school administrators called for a halt to the program and for more knowledge to be decimated to school administrations about the logistics of the programme, the benefits and reasons behind the initiative.

So if this HPV Vaccine offers protection against Cervical cancer, why all the noise about mass vaccinations intended to protect Grade 7 girls from contracting the disease?

HPV and Cervical cancer - Boys should also be vaccinated it causes Penile and prostate cancer

Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. It is caused by a virus, the HPV (human papillomavirus) and curiously, is a multi-vector disease.

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This as it is transmitted as follows:

1.      Sexually transmitted
2.      Skin-to-skin contact

Basically, you can get the virus via contact with sex or body fluids, a lot like the common cold. Infection occurs at age 25, with 80% of sexually active individuals contracting the disease. Three variants of HPV exist:

1.      Type 16 and 18 account for 70% of cases of cervical cancer,
2.      Type 45 and 31 the next most
3.      Type 6 and 11 cause genital warts

For young men thinking that this is a female disease, think again. HPV also causes penile cancer.

Which is why there is now a push for boys to also as noted in the article “Broaden HPV Vaccination To Schoolboys”, published Friday October 6, 2017 by Paul Jennings, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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This as the disease is not really gender specific, as it can be spread by boys to girls and it can cause prostate cancer in males as noted in the article “HPV and Men - Fact Sheet”. Truly troubling though, is the fact that in both men and women, HPV has no signs or symptoms, and some persons never develop HPV problems.

Of the 80% of sexually active individuals that contracting the disease, only 20% develope precancerous cervical lesions, which, if left undetected, become cancerous. Again all to like the common cold; many contract it but few may show signs if they have a strong immune system.

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In Jamaica, HPV results in 30 cases for every 100,000 persons, second only to Breast Cancer but higher than the infection rate in Cuba, which has fewer than 10 for every 100,000 persons.

So is this disease preventable?

Pap Smear and HPV Vaccination - After sensitization campaign both Boys and Girls need to be vaccinated

The answer is yes; The Pap Smear along with the HPV Vaccine is the key to prevention.

HPV is indeed preventable but early detection is necessary via having women do a Pap Smear test.  Pap Smear detects the changes in cervical cells caused by HPV. This simple, yet necessary procedure detects changes in the cervical cells before they get to a precancerous stage.

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For women it is usually done between the ages of 21 and 65 years and should be done every one to two years. Even after vaccination, it still has to be done to see the vaccine has boosted the immune system enough to prevent cervical cells reaching the precancerous stage.

Vaccinations are given in three doses over a six-month period.  It prevents the developement of HPV into cancer in 90% of those who are infected by the HPV virus. The Pap Smear occurs later in life, the vaccine is best done before the girls become sexually active, which is at age 10, around the same age as the 22,338 girls in Grade 7 based on 2016 entry data from the Ministry of Education.
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However, it can still be given after being sexually active, and after having HPV. It works by giving the immune system a weakened version of the HPV to defeat, thus allowing it to learn how to deal with the active HPV and thus prevent it from invading the body's cells to do damage.

This is where the issues comes in for parents, as the current policy stance by the Ministry of Health stigmatizes Grade 7 girls, possibly making them feel embarrassed if it is not fully explained why they are being singled out. Still, the effects of the HPV vaccine are expected to be very mild according to Acting Director of Family Health Services at the Ministry of Health, Dr Melody Ennis, quote: “Adverse effects are very mild. You are going to get a little redness, you are gonna get some swelling, you are going to get fever, possibly, but no severe reactions have been identified”.

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Despite fears, one fear has already been alleviated; no long lines albeit the vaccine might make you dizzy as pointed out by Dr Melody Ennis, who addressed a media forum held at the Pan American Health Organization offices in St Andrew on Saturday September 30th 2017, quote: “It's not a case where students are going to be in long lines and persons just stick them, we have made special provisions. They must be seated, they must be observed for at least 15 minutes, and efforts must be made to ensure that they don't fall”.

It is not yet mandatory as noted by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton in the article “Ministry Not Ready For HPV Vaccine To Be Mandatory”, published Monday October 2, 2017 Jodi-Ann Gilpin, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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But if it becomes mandatory, after a proper sensitization campaign as requested by the PNP (People’s National Party) as noted in the article “Opposition Calls For Public Education Campaign On HPV Vaccines”, published Monday October 2, 2017, The Jamaica Gleaner, it should also apply to both Grade 7 boys and girls islandwide.