More “education” is needed for the Board of Trustees of a Timaru school that banned vaccinations from being administered on school grounds, the South Canterbury District Health Board’s chief executive says.
After a board meeting on March 6, Grantlea Downs School decided not to allow the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine from being given to children on school grounds.
The HPV vaccine was the only vaccine the DHB administered at South Canterbury schools.
In addition to withdrawing from the nationwide HPV immunisation programme, the school board also told the South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) it did not want students spoken to about the vaccine on site.
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SCDHB chief executive Nigel Trainor said the “issue with the school board is not about vaccination, but around their role and responsibilities of children on site, and we need to do some more education with them around that”.
A SCDHB spokeswoman would not be drawn on whether the DHB was concerned about the information it had provided not being sent to parents.
According to documents supplied to Fairfax by the school board, only one parent, Annaleisha Coombes, who is also a member of the board, officially contacted the school raising concerns about vaccinating on school grounds.
In an email Coombes told principal Collette Sandilands “a bit of discussion is going on between parents at the moment regarding this vaccine. Is there any information offered by the school for parents?.
“Personally I have said no to it … until I can do my own research but I am concerned about how many will just sign the consent without really knowing much.”
Trainor said the school board was “new”, and that “social media has led to negative perception about the vaccine”.
He stressed the vaccination was a “great opportunity to protect our children from some cancers”.
A SCDHB spokeswoman said that on January 27 a letter was sent by the SCDHB to school principals, and included a copy of the newly printed School Based Immunisation Programme consent form, consumer pamphlet, and a link to the Ministry of Health website for their information.
“The letter told schools that the consent forms would be distributed to Year 8 students to take home, after their education session had been delivered by the public health nurse.”
Grantlea Downs School sent a four paragraph consent letter to parents on February 20 indicating the vaccination programme would start on February 22 with a visit from the public health nurse.
The letter did not include any of the information relating to the vaccine that had been provided by the SCDHB in its correspondence on January 27.
Questions were sent to South Canterbury Principals Association president Jane Culhane on whether she thought the school’s decision making process had been appropriately robust.
Repeated attempts to contact Culhane were unsuccessful.