WDHB tops national effort to immunise girls against cervical cancer

The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) has out-performed the country’s 19 other DHBs in its efforts to vaccinate Year 8 girls against cervical cancer.

WDHB immunisation coordinator Karen Howard confirmed today that WDHB had successfully vaccinated 88 percent of Year 8 Maori girls with human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV).

This was the highest result in the country and eight percent more than Tairawhiti (East Coast) DHB which was the second highest scoring DHB.

“Contributing to our top placing was the 65 percent rate the WDHB achieved for New Zealand European and ‘other’ Year 8 girls,  the 70 percent rate we achieved for Pacific girls and the 73 percent overall,” says Ms Howard.

“It’s been a great team effort between the WDHB, public health staff, administrators, general  practitioners (GPs), practice nurses, the Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation outreach team, iwi providers, schools, the Maori Women’s Welfare League and parents.

“When you consider that the HPV vaccine protects against over 70 percent of cervical cancer and 90 percent of genital warts while also helping to protect against some types of anal, oropharyngeal (throat), vulva and vagina cancers, it’s a very important vaccination to have.

“The fact it is free for girls up to the age of 20 should be an incentive for parents of girls who haven’t had the vaccination to arrange for them to do so.”

Ms Howard says the vaccine is approved for males up to age 26 and females up to age 45, but it is not funded for these groups. For those who do not qualify for free vaccinations, the cost is $500-$600 for a three injection course, which is most effective when given before a person becomes sexually active.