HPV vaccine catch up campaign kicks off


27 February 2020


WDHB’s Bruce Jones (centre) with Whanganui City College deputy principal Valerie Rooderkerk discussing the HPV catch-up programme with students.

A free school-based vaccination catch-up campaign targeting Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is being launched this week in Whanganui and will be gradually rolled out across the Whanganui, Rangitīkei and Waimarino districts – with a special focus on capturing teenagers who may not be up to date with their HPV vaccination.


Whanganui District Health Board’s communicable disease and school based immunisation coordinator, Bruce Jones, says while the HPV vaccine has been available for girls in Aotearoa since 2008, and boys since 2017, there is still a gap of current year 12 and 13 boys who have not previously had it offered at school, so this is a chance for them to get up to date.


“We are presently in the process of contacting all secondary schools and alternative education providers in the Whanganui, Rangitīkei and Waimarino areas, as more than 2000 students across those districts have not completed the HPV vaccination programme – so we’re really keen to reach those rangatahi.”


Mr Jones says teenagers who are unsure if they are up to date should ask their doctor or public health nurse, who can check their details against the national vaccination register.


“Because male students were not included in the HPV vaccination programme until 2017, some boys currently in years 12 and 13 may not have had the vaccine unless they received it from their GP,” Mr Jones says.


The HPV vaccine can protect against throat and mouth cancers (more common for men), most cervical cancers, cancer of the anus, vagina, vulva and penis as well as genital warts.


“The types of cancers caused by HPV are wide-ranging and are hugely damaging to our whānau and community,” Mr Jones says.


“As parents, there is a lot we don’t have control over with our rangatahi, but we can make sure they’re up to date with their vaccinations. That’s why I chose to vaccinate my children.”


Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

  • The HPV vaccine has an excellent safety record and has been thoroughly tested, similar to other childhood vaccines.
  • Research shows it is more effective from a younger age, as immune systems are better at making antibodies in response to the vaccine.
  • The HPV vaccine is available from age 9 and is routinely given at age 11-12 through the school immunisation programme or at GPs.
  • The HPV immunisation programme has been successfully run in Aotearoa since 2008. Diseases caused by HPV have decreased significantly in countries that offer HPV immunisations.