Updated: 19th Mar 2013
Boys aged 12 to 13 living in the Ararat Rural City municipality are now able to access the human papillomavirus (HPV) or Gardasil vaccine for free through the Council’s immunisation program.
The program will be offered permanently to boys in Year 7, and boys aged 14-15 only (Year 9) are also able to take part in a catch-up program being offered for free for the next two years.
Mayor Cr Ian Wilson said that Ararat Rural City Council was one of only three Victorian municipalities to start the extended program early, and urged parents of young boys to take advantage of the program extension while it was free.
The National HPV Vaccination Program was introduced in Australia in 2007 to protect girls aged 12-13 against HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.
The vaccine has been shown to greatly reduce the number of HPV diagnoses and the program has been extended to boys during 2013 and 2014 to help protect the small number of girls who missed out on the vaccine. It also protects boys from the HPV virus, which can cause cancers in males.
Cr Wilson said the vaccine program would be administered by the Council’s Maternal and Child Health / Immunisation Nurses Helen Boling and Therese Arnott through regular vaccine programs at local secondary schools.
“The schools distributed consent cards to the parents of boys eligible for the vaccine, and our Maternal Child Health Nurses have started visiting the schools to vaccinate,” he said.
“All parents need to do is sign the cards and return them to their school – we organise the rest. Parents can also take their children to their medical centre or Therese and Helen can arrange a catch-up session if children are absent from school when the immunisation session is scheduled.
“Parents who have not yet returned their immunisation card to their school can still do so – it’s not too late.”
The vaccine is given as three injections in the upper arm over six months. It provides protection against most male cancers caused by HPV infection, and protection against around 70% of cervical cancers.
The immunisations are free if they are given in the same year as the child is in Year 7, or Year 9 for the next two years, but can cost up to $450 if the course is not started or completed in time.
A fact sheet about the HPV vaccine for boys is available, and parents who would like to speak to someone further can call the Maternal Child Health office on 5352 1813.