Calgary Herald (01.08.13)
Public Health Officials in Calgary, Canada have produced an immunization plan for students of Calgary’s Catholic schools within six weeks of the Catholic school board overturning its ban on providing HPV vaccines in the schools. Although public schools made the vaccine available in 2008, and it is free at public health clinics, Calgary Catholic schools were caught up in a debate over morality and medicine. The change to allow the in-school vaccine resulted from a public campaign by a group of doctors and parents urging the Catholic school board to overturn its ban. After intense public pressure, the Catholic school board consulted with school councils and realized there was overwhelming parental support for making the vaccine available.
Since the vaccine requires three doses over six months, public health officials had to move quickly to make sure the Catholic students received the full immunization before the end of the school year. From mid-December, Catholic schools have offered the HPV vaccine to Grade 5 girls and Grade 9 girls who missed the vaccine during the time the ban was in effect. Alberta Health Service (AHS) is also offering the vaccine to Grade 12 girls who did not receive it when it was first made available in 2008. Eligible students were sent home with a letter from the board’s chief superintendent, information from AHS public health officials, and consent forms for parents to complete. The vaccine will now be part of the schools’ annual immunization program.