News / Calgary

HPV packets heading to Calgary Catholic homes this week, bishop’s letter not included

When Calgary’s Catholic School District sends home packets to parents this week detailing a new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program, it will be without its typical faith-based message.

Previously, the district had offered information on vaccination locations outside of schools but also included input from spiritual leader Bishop Fred Henry outlining his concerns about the program.

In the past, Henry had suggested the vaccine promoted promiscuity among young girls and advised the district against introducing a publicly funding program in its schools.

That all changed, however, after a public consultation and unanimous support from district trustees last week.

District spokesperson Janet Corsten said the packets will be provided to parents of girls and in grades five and nine and, with their written consent, vaccinations will begin before Christmas.

“The vaccine itself requires three shots and they have to be timed (over a period of months),” she said.

Pro-vaccine advocacy group HPV Calgary had long argued Henry’s comments on the vaccine were not valid, claiming measures to stop HPV, which has been commonly linked to cervical cancer, should be based solely on medical research.

The packet being provided to parents will still include a reference to a letter from the Catholic Bishops of Alberta, something that HPV Calgary’s Juliet Guichon objected to Tuesday.

“That’s inappropriate . . . we shouldn’t allow anybody into that conversation between patient and physician,” she said.

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