Catholic school division to allow vaccine
Health: HPV vaccine to be offered to Christ the Redeemer students
By: John Barlow
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 10:28 am
A decision by Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools to allow the HPV vaccine to be given to its students is being lauded by Alberta Health Professionals.
Earlier this month Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools’ (CRCS) board of trustees agreed to allow the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine to be given to students at their schools, but Alberta Health Services will be overseeing administering the vaccine.
CRCS superintendent Scott Morrison said the division reaffirmed its decision from five years ago the HPV vaccine is “incongruent” with their Catholic belief of chastity, but the trustees also understood their were few alternatives. Alberta Health Services did not have other methods to provide mass vaccination clinics without utilizing the schools.
“This was a compromise,” said Morrison. “Christ the Redeemer can give the responsibility of consent from the parents to Alberta Health Services.
“The board was forward thinking on this, the most important thing for us is parents are to be the primary educators and decision-makers on this. It is their call without our involvement.”
Five years ago CRCS opposed allowing the HPV vaccine to be given to students at their schools. The HPV vaccine is intended to prevent various viruses as well as protect against a number of cancers including cervical cancer. The vaccine is usually given toe girls between the ages of nine and 26.
However, Catholic school boards across Alberta argued the vaccine promoted promiscuity as it prevented sexually transmitted diseases.
As a result, most Catholic school divisions in Alberta did not allow AHS to provide the vaccine at free clinics within their schools. Therefore, Catholic students whose parents wanted them to have the vaccine had to go to their doctor or a health clinic to receive the vaccine at a cost.
Morrison explained CRCS’s stance on chastity has not changed, however, they wanted to leave the decision on whether or not children receive the vaccine up to parents.
The stipulation for the school division was it would allow Alberta Health Services (AHS) to provide the vaccine at its schools, but AHS would have to orchestrate the clinics as well as distributing and collecting consent forms.
Morrison said if consent forms are given to students by teachers and returned to the school it has the appearance CRCS endorses not only the HPV vaccine, but any vaccine.
“We do not want to act as an agent for AHS,” said Morrison. “We are just educators. AHS has been amazing to deal with on this agreement and they have understood our perspective and have not been judgmental.”
Morrison said what it comes down to for CRCS is it is up to the parents to make the decision on their child’s medical treatment.
“The whole idea is for us to go to parents and explain what happened,” he said. “We can’t expect to tell parents to vaccinate their child or not to vaccinate their child. That is not our job.”
Juliet Guichon, associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary, said she is pleased CRCS has relaxed it stance on the issue.
Guichon said she was disappointed Catholic schools took the stance they did five years ago because there was no scientific proof the vaccine would promote promiscuity among young girls.
However, she said it is better late then never.
“It is a great win for the children,” she said. “Parents can get the information from health professionals the vaccine is safe and an effective method for cancer prevention.
“Nine and 10-year-old girls do not change their behaviour based on a vaccine. There is logical foundation, no theological foundation to that.”