Health Unit expands free HPV vaccine program for teen girls

Health Unit expands free HPV vaccine program for teen girls

SIMCOE, NOVEMBER 12, 2012 – Girls who missed out on a publicly-funded Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunization program before graduating Grade 8 now have a second chance to get their shots.
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit will now be also offering free HPV vaccines to girls in Grades 9 to 12 as well, as part of a catch-up program. Vaccination clinics will be held in local high schools starting November 19.

The vaccine, given in three doses over a specific time period, protects against certain strains of HPV, which is the leading cause of cervical cancer among women age 20-44.
The three shots cost $400 to $500 at a doctor’s office. However, this June the provincial government announced additional funding which allowed the HPV program to be expanded to include teenage girls who did not receive any or all of the HPV vaccine in Grade 8.

“We realize some girls did not receive the vaccine in Grade 8, or did not complete the series of three shots, for a variety of reasons,” noted Eric Robertson, Public Health Nurse with the Health Unit. “Our hope is that once word spreads and people realize that it’s a safe vaccine and important to prevent cervical cancer — and it would otherwise be expensive if they had to buy it on their own — that they’ll come to our clinics and take advantage of this free service.”

HPV is the primary cause of genital warts, and is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It is spread during sexual activity by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. People with a HPV infection may not know they are infected because they have no signs or symptoms, but they can still pass the infection to their partners.

“Even if a female is not currently sexually active, there is no guarantee that a future partner will not be infected with HPV and unknowingly pass it on to her,” added Robertson. “This is why it’s best if females get the HPV vaccine before they become sexually active and are potentially exposed to the HPV virus.”

All eligible teenage girls will receive information about the voluntary clinics in the mail, along with a consent form which the girls are asked to bring with them to school on the day of the clinic.

A list of the scheduled school clinic dates is available on the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s website at www.hnhu.org. Anyone with questions regarding the HPV Immunization Program is invited to contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s Vaccine Preventable Disease Program at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.

Below is a list of the scheduled school clinic dates for the first dose of the HPV vaccine:

Monday, Nov. 19             – Dunnville Secondary School – 9 to 11 a.m.
                                       - Cayuga Secondary School – 1 to 3 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 20           - Holy Trinity Catholic High School – 9 to 11 a.m.
                                       - Port Dover Composite School – 1 to 3 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 21      – McKinnon Park Secondary School – 9 to 11 a.m.
                                       – Hagersville Secondary School – 1 to 3 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 22          - Simcoe Composite School – 9 to 11 a.m.
                                       - Waterford District High School – 1 to 3 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 23               - Valley Heights Secondary School – 9 to 11 a.m.
                                       - Delhi District Secondary School – 1 to 3 p.m.

 

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Media contact:
Eric Robertson RN, BScN
Public Health Nurse, Vaccine Preventable Disease Program
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3227 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
eric.robertson@hnhu.org