Girls in Yellowknife's Catholic school board will not get immunized against the human papillomavirus (HPV) at school, after board trustees voted this week not to allow the vaccinations to be administered through its schools.

Trustees with Yellowknife Catholic Schools (YCS) voted 5-2 on Wednesday not to allow HPV vaccinations to be administered at the city's Catholic schools, following a debate on whether ensuring girls get the controversial vaccines should be the responsibility of parents or schools.

"They felt they didn't have enough information," YCS board vice-chair Rose-Marie Jackson told CBC News on Thursday.

"They felt that it hadn't been proven that it actually wouldn't prevent cervical cancer, and they felt that there was scare tactics associated with hype around this vaccine," she said.

Each year in Canada, an estimated 1,350 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 400 women die from the disease.

Jackson, who had voted in favour of allowing HPV vaccinations to be administered in YCS schools, said the majority of trustees felt they wanted to put that responsibility squarely on the shoulders of parents.

But Wanda White, the N.W.T. government's communicable-disease specialist, said having the HPV vaccine administered in schools would make it easier for girls to get it.

"We'll have to make alternate arrangements for ... the young people to come and get the immunization, either at the health centres or the public health unit," White said.

"So it creates work for the parents and, of course, getting the students to come in and then getting the clinic time. Whereas if you set up in the gymnasium or classroom and have all the kids come through, you can get them done, you know, in a more expedited fashion."

Girls going to YCS schools will have to schedule three shots over a six-month period, White said.

The city's other school board, the Yellowknife Education District, says it is allowing HPV vaccinations to be administered in its schools.

Corrections

  • The original article incorrectly stated about 1,300 women contract HPV a year in Canada. In fact about 1,350 women in Canada are diagnosed with cervical cancer a year.
    Sep 29, 2009 7:25 AM CT