Catholic board votes in favour of HPV vaccine
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2007 9:15PM EDT
The Toronto Catholic District School Board has voted to allow public health nurses to give its young students a vaccine against HPV, a common sexually transmitted disease linked to cervical cancer.
The vote passed 9-3 Wednesday night.
The Ontario government is offering the human papilloma virus vaccine to all Grade 8 girls, but some Catholic school boards have questioned whether the program promotes sexual activity among teens.
Late Tuesday night, the Halton Catholic District School Board narrowly voted to approve use of the vaccine.
But Ontario's Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board has already put the program on hold until it has more information from the Ontario Ministry of Health.
Toronto board chair Oliver Carroll said "you can't bury your head in the sand," and added that the vaccines are not a green light for premarital sex.
"I will leave it to the parents and the daughter to sort out their ethics, but in the meantime I believe we have an obligation to give them the protection they may need," he said.
A letter from Ontario's conference of Bishops had urged the Halton board not to make the vaccine available to its students on religious grounds.
"Infection with HPV or other sexually transmitted diseases can occur only through sexual activity, which carries with it profound risks to a young person's spiritual, emotional, moral and physical health," they wrote.
"The Bishops note that, at best, a vaccine can only be potentially effective against one of these risks, that to physical health, and may have other unintended and unwanted consequences."
The HPV vaccine is effective against 70 per cent of cervical cancers. And according estimates by the Canadian Cancer Society, 1,350 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year in Canada and 390 will die of the disease.
Health Canada estimates that up to 75 per cent of sexually active Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime.
With a report by CTV's Lisa LaFlamme and files from The Canadian Press