2 Feb 2009

Next phase of Gardasil vaccination begins

3:12 pm on 2 February 2009

The major roll-out of an anti-cervical cancer vaccination programme begins this week for girls aged 12 to 18, and where people live will dictate how they can access the vaccine.

Gardasil has been available free of charge to those aged 17 and 18 since September, and has reached 20,000 girls.

From this week, the immunisation campaign is being rolled out for girls aged 12 to 18.

All but one district health board has chosen to dispense the required three injections at local schools, with parental permission.

The exception, Canterbury District Health Board, has opted to have GPs administer Gardasil.

Planning and funding general manager Carolyn Gullery said a school-based programme would take up too much resources and risks leading to a shortage of nurses in primary and secondary care.

A small number of religious schools are refusing to allow nurses into the classroom, and in those neighbourhoods there will be local campaigns encouraging people to visit their GP.

The Ministry of Health hopes to immunise 300,000 girls over the next five years against the common cause of cervical cancer and genital warts. The programme is costing $177 million over five years.