News / Calgary

School council meetings become venue for Calgary Catholic school HPV debate

Let the debate begin.

That's the message to Calgary Catholic school parents, who are now being encouraged to attend regularly scheduled school council meetings and provide feedback on whether they think the controversial human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine should be offered in schools.

The consultation period comes after elected trustees had a change of heart during a board meeting late last month and agreed to revisit the matter after four years of rejecting a vaccination program offered by nearly every other Canadian Catholic school board.

The board's spiritual leader, Bishop Fred Henry, has also supported renewed discussion on the matter.

"These are meetings that were scheduled anyway," said Catholic board spokesperson Janet Corsten. "This is all kind of proceeding throughout the month of November."

The vaccine has proven effective against the virus, which studies have shown is a leading cause of cervical cancer.

Calgary mother Jodi Steininger already had to look outside the school system to have her older daughter vaccinated a few years ago but hopes the board will reconsider before next year, when her younger child enters Grade 5 — one of two grades in which the HPV vaccine is administered.

"I think what they (the board) are is missing is that the vaccine for Hepatitis B, which is a sexually transmitted disease, is already offered in Grade 5," Steininger said, referring to a long-held believe by Bishop Henry that the vaccine promotes promiscuity. "It's only logical to combine the two."

Parents who miss or are unable to attend their designated school council meeting can email feedback to hpvinput@cssd.ab.ca.

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