Schools refuse cancer vaccine

The Dominion Post 04 May 2009

Dozens of schools have opted out of a mass immunisation programme to protect girls against cervical cancer. Girls as young as 12 started receiving the vaccinations at schools in February. Fifty adverse reactions have been reported so far this year, with 10 reports of fainting and one case of an allergic reaction. The previous government said the death rate from cervical cancer would be halved in future decades by the $177 million programme over five years to provide free immunisation.

Each year there are 180 diagnoses of cervical cancer and about 60 women die from it. Greg Simmons, the Health Ministry’s chief adviser for population health, confirmed 78 schools had declined to take part in the programme about 5 per cent of those eligible. The number could include schools that chose not to take part for logistical reasons, such as small rural schools, he said.