Cancer Council Victoria and Swan Hill Rural City Council are urging parents to ensure they sign and return consent forms for children who are eligible for the free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
The HPV vaccine has been proven to significantly reduce the prevalence of high grade cervical abnormalities in young women, which can lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. The vaccine also protects against other HPV-related illnesses such as genital warts in men and women.
As part of the National HPV Vaccination Program, Victorian secondary schools are offering the three-dose HPV vaccine Gardasil for free to both girls and boys in Year 7. Until the end of this year, boys in Year 9 are also being offered the vaccine for free at school.
Cancer Council Victoria Director of Prevention Craig Sinclair said that to reduce the number of HPV-related cancers and disease in both men and women, it was important for both boys and girls to be vaccinated.
“The vaccine protects against the two high-risk HPV types (types 16 and 18) which cause 70% of cervical cancers in women and 90% of all HPV-related cancers in men,” he said.
The vaccine also provides protection against two low-risk HPV types (types 6 and 11) which cause 90% of genital warts in men and women.
“In previous years around a quarter of Victorian girls have failed to finish the three-dose course, which means they aren’t giving themselves best possible protection against HPV-related cancers, and genital warts,” he said.
“HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection and the vaccine works best if given before exposure to the virus has taken place. This is why it’s so important for boys and girls to complete the three-dose vaccine at a young age.”
Swan Hill Rural City Council Health Services Team Leader Mel Bennett said students could only receive the vaccine at school if their parents returned the completed consent forms to their child’s school.
“It’s really important for parents of teenagers who are eligible for the HPV vaccine to have their consent forms completed and returned to school before the first dose is administered,” Ms Bennett said.
“Each school in the Swan Hill area has a different timetable for delivering the three doses of the vaccine, so it’s important for parents to know when their child is due to be vaccinated,” she said.
“If students miss a dose at school, we encourage them to contact us on 5036 2591 for information on vaccine catch-up options. They can also contact their doctor.”
The HPV vaccine is also available to purchase for males aged 9-26 years and females aged 9-45 years. Cancer Council Victoria recommends people speak to their doctor to discuss whether the vaccine is right for them.
To find out when the vaccination will be administered at your child’s school, call Council’s Public Health Services on 5036 2591 or your child’s school. For more information on the vaccine and HPV, visit www.hpvvaccine.org.au/