Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Quick hit: Only 40 schools may decline HPV vaccine

One News last night reported that 98% of schools are offering the HPV shot that prevents most cervical cancer:
The Mt Maunganui College principal, Terry Collett, supports the decision for girls to be informed about Gardisal and cervical cancer."School's the ideal place to capture the students, to give them the opportunity to look after their future lives," says Collett.

Schools have until the end of this week to either opt in or out of the vaccine programme.

Figures obtained from the ministry show most, like Mt Maunganui, are welcoming it, 98% in fact.

Only 40 schools have said no or are yet to reply. One of those is Tauranga's Bethlehem College.

Phillip Nash, Principal of Bethlehem College, says religion is playing a factor in their decision.

"We obviously take a stand as a Christian school on chastity before marriage and faithfulness in marriage and we don't want to compromise that message," says Nash.

The college says it's a parental decision, made alongside a girl's GP, not one for schools.

Nash says the school is not shutting young girls from getting the vaccine.

"We're just putting the responsibility back where we think it belongs," he says.

Apparently the Canterbury area has a very high uptake of GP-based immunisation programmes, so they're going to do it that way rather than at schools.

Does anyone know how/if we can find out which school have opted out? If it's either of my old high schools (one Catholic, one Anglican) I'd quite like to write them a letter expressing my disappointment. And if any state schools decline the vaccine on religious grounds then that rather undermines our commitment to secular education does it not?


Madeleine said...

Maybe if a school declines to participate it merely reflects their realisation that this is a parent/child decision, not a state/child decision and maybe as someone who does not even have children in the schools you want to write to and criticse you should butt out and leave the parents of the children in those schools to make their own decisions.

Julie said...

So because I don't have a child at a high school that is declining to give the immunisation I'm not entitled to an opinion? Don't we all have an interest in lowering the rate of cervical cancer?

Idiot/Savant said...

Does anyone know how/if we can find out which school have opted out?

OIA the DHBs. Though its something the schools should be publicising anyway: "we don't care about your kids!"

Idiot/Savant said...

Though reading further, the story says the figures came from the Ministry of Health. So, OIA them instead.

stargazer said...

madeleine, it's still the parents decision for those 98% of schools that offer the vaccine. the parents still have to inform themselves and make a decision to go ahead.

muerk said...

Provided parents can access the immunisation easily if they so choose to, I don't mind whether schools are involved or not.

"Though its something the schools should be publicising anyway: "we don't care about your kids!" "

That's rubbish. A difference of opinion doesn't preclude caring about kids. Parents still have access to the immunisation from their GPs.

Azlemed said...

My girls are not old enough to be involved in this, but i would like to know if any of the schools I would send them to are part of this. My family has a history of abnormal smears etc, and hysterectomies so I would like to think that I can help reduce the risk of my girls being in the situation of getting cancer... I'd get my boy done too if it was available.

Emma said...

I was really angry with that principal linking the vaccine with chastity. So, we're saying parents are perfectly free to get it for their kids outside of school, we just think those girls are sluts.

Why doesn't the rubella vaccine get this kind of shit?

It's being offered through drs rather than schools in Canterbury, supposedly because of Pegasus's great record in getting immunisation done through Drs. And yet the meningitis vaccine was done through schools...

Julie said...

Thanks for the OIA information, I will follow that up if I get a chance.

Seeing as how my old schools seem quite happy to write to me asking for money on a regular basis I'm sure they won't mind one polite missive in the other direction.

As has already been said, parents can still say no if the school is offering it, so Madeleine the choice still ultimately rests with the parent and child, I'm not sure you understood that?

Anonymous said...

Good on those schools that decline this, the government has proven themselves to be lacking integrity on their immunization campaigns lately.
They deflect all intelligent debate with a 'we are always right' attitude with little thought about the long term implications.

The parent's and the individuals involved should be making this choice themselves; free of public misinformation and propaganda

muerk said...

Rubella doesn't get this attention because it isn't a sexually transmitted infection.

There's no choice in regards to receiving rubella via a sneeze from someone standing next to you. Where as people can choose to have sex in order to open themselves up to a risk of human papillomavirus virus.

Lucy said...

Good on those schools that decline this, the government has proven themselves to be lacking integrity on their immunization campaigns lately.

Oh, absolutely, I find that letting people die of cervical cancer rather than offer a vaccine for it shows *massive* integrity on the government's part.

Emma said...

Muerk: so why aren't boys vaccinated at eleven against rubella? Girls are immunised because the most dangerous thing about rubella is getting it while you're pregnant:
We all got jabbed in the arm at intermediate to protect us against getting a disease while we were pregnant. It was given at that age to catch girls before they became sexually active. So yeah, I do see equivalence.

muerk said...

Emma: the risk of catching HPV increases with an increase of different partners.

The risk of pregnancy is about the same whether it's 1 man a woman is having sex with or whether it's 20.

Personally I think we should vaccinate boys against rubella because it decreases the resorvoir for the disease.

Sadly, catching rubella is a matter of luck, catching HPV has the element of choice.

Please note: I'm not making a value judgement here on women who have a greater number of sexual partners, I'm just pointing out the causal relationship between sexual activity and getting infected with HPV.

I personally think that the Government should immunise boys as well as girls for HPV.