Calgary Herald (10.26.12)
In a statement released October 25, Bishop Fred Henry, Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, still believes the original decision against an in-school HPV vaccination program is the right action to take. However, he supports the Calgary Catholic school trustees’ decision to consult with parents as to whether that prohibition should remain in place. On October 24, the Catholic trustees decided to revisit the issue, based upon a recent threat of legal action, differences of opinion, and the lack of a consistent policy across Catholic school boards. The 2008 decision does not allow Grade 5 and Grade 9 girls to be vaccinated in many Catholic schools for the sexually transmitted HPV.
Physicians and parents representing the group HPV Calgary have pressured the school board to revisit the 2008 ban. Dr. Juliet Guichon, a member of the group and an assistant professor at the University of Calgary faculty of medicine, contends that this is a public health matter. HPV Calgary has been raising money for a legal challenge. The trustees’ decision does not guarantee that the ban will be overturned, though compiling parents’ views of the subject is an important move for the board. Guichon applauded the board for placing the children’s best interests first and listening to public health experts regarding what is in their best interests.
Bishop Henry said in his statement that he has never said the HPV vaccine leads to promiscuity in girls. He maintains that he does not want Catholic youth to be sent “mixed messages” about premarital sex, but to be taught about Catholic morality and sexuality and be “informed about risky behavior to their spiritual, emotional, moral, and physical health, and sexually transmitted diseases.”