ALBERTA

HPV Vaccination Advocates "Harassing" Me: Medicine Hat Catholic School Trustee

10/06/2013 03:07 EDT | Updated 10/06/2013 03:20 EDT
AP
Lauren Fant, left, 18, winces as she has her third and final application of the HPV vaccine administered by nurse Stephanie Pearson at a doctor's office Tuesday, Dec. 18 2007, in Marietta, Ga. This groundbreaking vaccine that prevents cervical cancer in girls is gaining a reputation as the most painful of childhood shots, health experts say. (AP Photo/John Amis)

The chair of an Alberta Catholic school board is putting his foot down to calls for HPV immunizations in his schools, asking an advocacy group to stop "harassing" him with emails.

HPV Canada, a not-for-profit group concerned with cervical cancer prevention, has sent Peter Grad, chair of the Medicine Hat Catholic School Board, seven emails since June 2013, asking Grad to reconsider his stance on refusing the HPV shot in schools.

In a June 15 letter to Grad, HPV Canada wrote:

"Schools are the best place to vaccinate against infectious disease because children gather there. In-school vaccine administration is just, efficient, and effective, and of relatively low cost to the public health system and therefore to tax payers."

According to the group's latest letter, Grad responded to previous emails saying:

“Please save the children in our world from being tempted to go against the wishes of the Magistarium!! Do you think maybe Jesus got it right?

Please stop harassing me."

Currently, Alberta's largest Catholic school boards allow in-school vaccinations, but seven publicly funded boards refuse to offer the vaccine, reports the National Post.

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Misconceptions About HPV

Officials at those schools say the shots, while meant to protect against the sexually-transmitted, human papilloma virus (HPV), go against the teachings of the church, which promote abstinence from sexual activity until marriage.

Calgary Bishop Fred Henry has also claimed vaccinating children against HPV would lead to increased promiscuity.

The Calgary Catholic School District lifted a four-year ban on the in-school vaccinations last year, which protect against strains of the virus that cause 70% of cervical cancer.

Seventy per cent of Grade 5 and Grade 9 girls in those schools signed up to be vaccinated, reports Metro Calgary.

Juliet Guichon, spokesperson for HPV Canada, previously told the Calgary Herald that voters in the upcoming school board trustee elections should ask candidates where they stand on the issue before voting and urge them to lift the ban if elected.

“We want to say to them, look at what’s going on here. Children, especially poor children, are not getting easy access to a vaccine because school trustees are blocking it,” Guichon told the Herald.

Grad told the Herald the school district remains firm in its position, having voted twice to not provide the vaccine at school.

However, Guichon calls Grad's emailed comments "extreme," telling the National Post there's "a focus on what adults want, rather than what children need."

“In 20 years, there will be girls, who will then be women, travelling from Medicine Hat to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary for treatment. This is serious," she warned.

Holy Spirit School Division reviewed Alberta Health stats and voted this week to allow in-school vaccinations.

The Holy Spirit school board told Global News when they realized how few girls in their division were being immunized they decided to make the vaccine available.

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