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Cervical cancer vaccination reminder

West Coast DHB urges young girls and their families not to forget about cervical cancer vaccination

The West Coast District Health Board is urging parents of Year Eight girls not to forget to return their consent forms indicating whether they want their daughter to receive the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.

Janet Hogan, West Coast DHB Clinical Manager, Immunisation says consent forms were sent to all parents of Year Eight girls (in the participating schools) on the West Coast nearly a month ago.

“Most parents have signed and returned the forms to us to let us know if they want their daughter to be vaccinated or not, however, we still are waiting to hear from around 10% of the people who received the consent forms."

Every year 150 New Zealand women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 50 die from the disease. More than 70 percent of cervical cancers are caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread through sexual contact.

Dr Cheryl Brunton, West Coast Medical Officer of Health says, “As prevention is better than cure, we urge parents not to forget about this important vaccination – the only vaccine available that prevents cancer.”

The vaccine is given to girls from the age of 12 as a series of three injections over a six-month period. It is available either through high schools, or in some areas such as Karamea, Haast and Moana, through the local rural clinic. The vaccine is also available free to girls up until 20 and if a young woman is no longer at school she can receive the vaccination at her GP or Family Planning free of charge.

“This year our Public Health Nurses are looking forward to working with Westland High School to vaccinate girls at the school, rather than at the Hokitika Health Centre. Working in partnership with the school will mean best health and education outcomes for the girls,” says Dr Brunton.

“For best protection girls need to be vaccinated before they are exposed to HPV, that is before they start having any sexual contact. Vaccinating girls and young women now will reduce their chances of getting cervical cancer later in life.”

The HPV vaccination programme in Greymouth has already started. It is expected to start in Hokitika in the second week of April.


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