On Wednesday, the Catholic School trustees in Calgary, Canada voted 6-1 against making the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine available in schools. Other schools in the Alberta region are launching a program this October that would make the vaccine available to girls in fifth grade. However, the Calgary Catholic schoolgirls will not benefit from this program. Why?
HPV is a leading cause of cervical cancer (this vaccine is cited as the first to prohibit cancer). However, HPV is generally transmitted through sexual activity. So, the Calgary Catholic School trustees are worried that making this vaccine available to young women would go against the teaching of the Catholic Church on premarital sex. Follow the logic: girls who get the HPV vaccine might be more inclined to have premarital sex.
Apparently, the trustees made this decision on their bishop’s suggestion. Chairwoman Marge Belcourt stated, “The bishop felt it was a moral issue and it might make . . . Catholic schools appear to be condoning premarital sex.”
Others disagree. Calgary gynecologist, Dr. Brian Hauck, said, “I am very surprised. They are putting these girls at risk. They’re no doubt, guaranteed, that if these girls are not immunized that some of them in the future are going to become infected with HPV. The statistics are there. It’s going to happen to Catholic girls and non-Catholic girls.”
Actually, the bishop and the trustees might be right. The Calgary Catholic Schools seem very concerned with the formal teaching of the Church. And so, I assume that they do not teach comprehensive sexuality education to their students. Without the proper education, these young women probably are more likely to make uniformed sexual decisions. They may very well believe that this vaccine will protect them from pregnancy or that you can’t get pregnant your first time or masturbation will make you go blind or …
In lieu of the vaccine, Calgary Catholic schools will have a packet of information on the vaccine available for parents.