In a province with the highest rate of invasive cervical cancer, handing out more free vaccines is considered a healthy move.
Next year, Grade 10 girls who missed the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine in Grade 7 will be able to catch up.
In 2007, the province started giving girls in Grade 7 the three doses required for the vaccination. The 6,000 girls in Grade 10 next year are still in the optimal age range for the vaccine, but missed it by one year.
“This one piece of that (reducing cervical cancer rates) doesn’t negate the pap screening or any other safe-sex practices for sexual health,” said Kim McGill, the province’s immunization coordinator.
It is a voluntary vaccination program and some parents have declined to give their girls the free vaccine.
In the 2007-2008 school year, 80 per cent of eligible girls were given the vaccine.
“Which was one of the highest (uptake rates) of any of the four provinces that offer the program,” said McGill.
There are a few reasons why parents decline, she said.
“Their beliefs, and it’s a new vaccine, so there’s not a lot of information and they don’t know where to get the information. It’s a personal choice.”
So far, 12,000 young girls and women have taken the vaccination in Nova Scotia.
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