HPV vaccine practice not changing, says Catholic board chair
By Dan Singleton
The Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division – which includes schools in Innisfail and Olds and has students from across the region – will not be changing its current practice regarding HPV vaccinations for schoolgirls, says board chairperson Adriana LaGrange.
As with the Calgary Catholic School District, the Red Deer division has a practice in place not to administer the vaccine to its students.
“We don't have a policy, but we did have a motion passed earlier on it, and our practice is that we do not have the health units administer the vaccine in our schools,” LaGrange said in an interview Thursday.
“We do send information home with the students indicating to parents all the information about the vaccine and if they are interested where they can go to have it done.
“We have no plan to change that practice, nor have we been approached. I know it's come up in Calgary, but for us at this point in time it is a non-issue.”
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a sexually transmitted infection.
Last week, a group of health experts lead by University of Calgary pediatrics professor Dr. Ian Mitchell called on the Calgary Catholic board to lift its ban on providing the vaccine to its students.
The vaccine, which is offered by the province free of charge, can help prevent infections that have been linked to cervical cancer and other ailments, Dr. Mitchell reportedly said.
“I think young girls are not getting the benefit of a safe, effective, preventative intervention,” said Mitchell.
Red Deer division chairperson LaGrange says the current practice of not having the vaccine administered to its students at school came following lengthy deliberation.
“We did a lot of research and we did a lot of soul searching to come up with that decision,” said LaGrange. “We feel this is an important decision that parents need to be informing themselves about and making because it can have serious ramifications for their child, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
“So that's why we felt that it is very, very important for parents to become informed about all aspects of the HPV vaccine and then to make that informed decision themselves and take their child to have it done if they so choose.”
There are 18 schools in the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division.