Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Calgary Catholic Schools Review Policy against Student HPV Vaccinations

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Calgary Catholic Schools Review Policy against Student HPV Vaccinations

Article excerpt

Calgary Catholic schools revisit HPV vaccine


CALGARY - Calgary's Catholic school district will review its policy against allowing students to be vaccinated for the virus that causes cervical and other types of cancers.

Four years ago, the district said no to the HPV vaccine, a position that was strongly supported by Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, who opposed the vaccine being given in Catholic schools on moral and religious grounds.

The district's board of trustees now says because of recent medical studies it will consult with parents about offering the vaccine to Grade 5 girls.

"At the end of the day, the information will come back to the board and the board will make a decision that will be heavily informed by parental input," Mary Martin, chairwoman of the board of trustees said Thursday.

"It is conceivable that this vaccine will be administered in our schools or, pending the direction of our parents, they may direct us to stay the course."

HPV is transmitted through sexual activity and can cause penile, vaginal and neck cancers as well as genital warts.

The Calgary Catholic district is the only school board in a major Canadian city that doesn't allow students to receive the HPV vaccination at school.

Other publicly funded Catholic boards in Yellowknife, the Ontario region of Halton and school districts in central and southern Alberta have also banned the vaccine.

Earlier this month, researchers published a study in the journal Pediatrics that said the HPV vaccine has not been linked to promiscuity in girls.

The study was funded by the Kaiser Permanente health management organization in the United States and Emory University.

It followed 1,398 girls aged 11-12 in Georgia during the first 18 months after the Gardasil HPV vaccine became available.

"We saw no increase in pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections or birth-control counselling -- all of which suggest the HPV vaccine does not have an impact on increased sexual activity," Robert Bednarczyk, an epidemiologist and lead author of the study, said.

On Oct. 20, 2008, Bishop Henry praised school districts that voted against Alberta's HPV vaccination program. …

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