Thursday, 8 October 2009

No vaccine for Catholic schoolgirls - Canada -

No vaccine for Catholic schoolgirls - Canada -

In a 5-2 vote, the Yellowknife Catholic school board has decided against allowing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination shots in its institutions. This will make it more difficult for girls to get the shots, increasing their risk for the sexually transmitted infection, which is the primary cause of cervical cancer. “This is not ideal for the work of public health,” says Sandy Lee, minister of health and social services for the Northwest Territories.

In Calgary’s Catholic schools, where the board refused to allow the shots, only one in five girls has been vaccinated against HPV (70 per cent of girls in public schools have received the shots). A similar situation could occur in Yellowknife, where girls are sexually active earlier than in most of Canada, and the rate of STIs is eight times the national average.

But Mary Vane, chair of Yellowknife’s Catholic school board, says those risks are outweighed by the right of parents to make decisions about their children’s health. “The only way to really ensure that the parents are in fact making that decision totally is to have [the shots] at public health.”

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