A Timaru primary school which has opted not to allow the vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) to be administered on its grounds is not the only South Canterbury school to prevent on site vaccinations.
However, Grantlea Downs School is the only school in South Canterbury to specifically withdraw from the HPV vaccine, known as Gardasil.
A South Canterbury District Health Board spokeswoman confirmed there were other schools which had withdrawn from vaccinations for various reasons, but Grantlea Downs was the only one to withdraw from the Gardasil programme.
“There are some other schools that also don’t allow vaccinations, but that’s a historical thing because of religion, or other reasons.
READ MORE * Timaru school opts out of vaccine programme * School says stance is about choice and safety
“They would have said no to vaccinations prior to HPV.”
The spokeswoman was not able to provide the names of the other schools not participating in the programme.
She said Gardasil was the only vaccine the DHB administered at South Canterbury schools.
The Tdap injection, known as Boostrix, which immunised children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis when they were aged 11 to 12, was given to children by their GP, she said.
The spokeswoman also said taking students by bus from the school to its Woollcombe House facility to be immunised hadn’t cost the DHB any more than vaccinating pupils at the school would have.
Grantlea Downs School Board of Trustees chairman Nigel Chapman confirmed on Tuesday the school had decided not to allow the immunisation of year eight students with the Gardasil vaccine on school grounds.
In a statement, Chapman said the school had made the decision “in the interests of parental choice and student safety” for the vaccinations to be given “by a healthcare professional in a medical setting rather than on school grounds”.
South Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Daniel Williams, has expressed concern about the impact potentially misleading information about the vaccine could have.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of misinformation circulating about HPV, and that can make it hard for parents to know what to do”, Williams said.
“We understand that school boards are important leaders in the community and we’ll continue to support Grantlea Downs school.”
Williams said school-based programmes were the “most effective and the most convenient way to offer HPV immunisation to most of our children”.
“Our programme co-ordinator and one of our local GPs have offered to meet with the board and make sure they have good information about HPV immunisation.”
In January Health Minister Jonathan Coleman confirmed that in 2017 the HPV vaccine would be given to boys as well as girls.