Parents and daughters invited to attend HPV vaccination sessions

2 February 2016
Parents and Year 8 Girls will be invited to attend human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination information sessions which schools will host during the first few weeks of Term 1.
Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) immunisation coordinator Karen Page says schools will begin the three-dose HPV vaccination programme for Year 8 girls on 14 March this year – an event parents are encouraged to support by attending the information sessions and returning the consent form.

“Given that around 160 New Zealand women develop cervical cancer each year, and around 50 die from the disease, it’s important that girls receive the HPV vaccination,” Ms Page says.

“Besides protecting women from cervical cancer, the vaccine also gives some protection against other HPV-related cancers and conditions such as vaginal, penile and other genital cancers, anal, mouth and throat cancers, genital warts and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) where warts block the trachea (breathing pipe) in babies and some adults,” Ms Page says.

“Some treatments for cervical cell changes caused by the HPV virus may also increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage, low-birth weight and prematurity.”

Ms Page says the vaccine is most effective when given to young teenage girls and well before they become sexually active. The immune response of young teenagers to the vaccine is better than it is for older women.

Whanganui DHB has good acceptance rates for the HPV vaccine, with 63 percent of girls completing three doses compared to the 62 percent who do so nationally.
Disappointingly the rate for Māori has slipped. Uptake for Whanganui Māori used to be above the national average but now we rate 69 percent for three doses against 71 percent nationally.

Parents can view informational videos at or for the Boostrix video. Further information is also available by phoning 0800 IMMUNE (0800 466863) or 06 348 3260.

In the meantime, Boostrix vaccinations for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Whooping Cough) for Year 7 boys and girls, begin on 16 May.

As the names suggests, the Boostrix vaccination gives booster doses for the Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis vaccinations given to babies and four-year-olds. Ms Page says while Diphtheria and Tetanus cases are rare in New Zealand, five to 10 percent of people with Diphtheria do die of the disease, which can also lead to paralysis and heart failure.

Ten percent of those infected with Tetanus will also die. Pertussis is more common. It can infect all ages including babies who usually catch it from someone in the household. The Boostrix vaccine is free to pregnant women who request it through their GP.