Tuesday, 15 December, 2009 – 12:14
by Cheryl Brunton
Next year public health nurses will be back in schools on the West Coast, offering free Human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation to girls.
In 2009, 95 percent of eligible schools across New Zealand chose to participate in the programme. West Coast girls who missed out on the immunisation this year will have another opportunity to be immunised at school in 2010.
Dr Cheryl Brunton, the Medical Officer of Health for the West Coast, says the immunisation will help protect girls and young women from future cervical cancer.
“More than 99 percent of cervical cancer is linked to an HPV infection, and this year alone about 60 New Zealand women will lose their lives to this cancer.
“The HPV vaccine is a valuable tool to help prevent cervical cancer, and the HPV Immunisation Programme is expected to help halve the number of women who die from cervical cancer in the future.”
She says 2010 will be the last year of the school-based programme for girls in school year 9 and above. From 2011 onwards, the HPV vaccine will only be available to girls in school year eight, at participating schools. “However girls in other years who do not have the immunisation at school will still be able to be immunised for free at their general practice or local health clinic.”