By KIM THOMAS and REBECCA TODD – The Press
May 18, 2009
Some Canterbury parents are hesitating to get their daughters vaccinated against cervical cancer because they fear it will make the teenagers sexually active.
A third of Canterbury girls eligible for the free vaccination have had the jab since the programme started last September.
In Canterbury, the Gardasil vaccine is administered by GPs, while girls in other parts of the country can get the injection at school.
The Canterbury District Health Board’s project manager for the Gardasil vaccine, Alison Young, said the board was pleased with the number of girls who had been vaccinated.
However, there were concerns and misconceptions that meant parents were not getting their daughters immunised, she said.
“Some parents are delaying due to their daughter not being sexually active, and that 12 years is too young,” Young said.
“Research has shown that the vaccination is more effective in girls nine to 15 than older age groups.”
Young said more than 7000 girls had been vaccinated so far.
Girls aged 18 and 19 were eligible for free vaccination from September last year, and the programme was extended to girls as young as 12 in January.
Young said some parents believed the vaccine lasted for only five years, but research showed it was as effective after five years as when first injected.
Twenty-two South Island schools, including eight Christian schools, have opted out of the Gardasil vaccination programme.
Gardasil protects girls from a sexually transmitted infection, the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to 99 per cent of all cervical cancer.
Some Christian groups argued against the vaccination, saying it would encourage promiscuity in young girls.
South Island schools that have chosen not to offer the vaccination include St Josephs in Balclutha, the Tasman Christian School, St Peter Chanel in Motueka and Holy Family School in Wanaka.
Principals at St Joseph’s and St Peter Chanel said the decision was based on numbers, rather than morality, as they had only a couple of eligible year 8 girls.
Holy Family School board chairwoman Yeverley McCarthy said the school had just a “handful” of eligible girls and did not want the vaccination given on school grounds.
“We felt it was a conscience decision for the parents,” she said.
Comment from Leslie –
“To the contrary, there is not enough data is this age group to determine if the vaccine is effective. Toxic metals are being injected into a developing body – where is the sense in that? Even vaccine developer Dr. Diane Harper has stated that injecting the HPV vaccine into this age group is a “big public experiment.”