MEDICINE HAT, Alberta, December 17, 2013 ( – An Alberta Catholic school board has decided to follow the provincial government’s rollout of the controversial HPV vaccine for boys in grade 5, after having already approved it for girls.

“It’s really a no-brainer for us,” said Dick Mastel, vice-chair of the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education (MHCBE), at a board meeting last week, according to Medicine Hat News

The Alberta government announced its plan earlier this month, estimating the cost of the HPV rollout to be more than $4 million annually.


The vaccine is controversial not only because of its severe side effects, including reports of deaths, but also because parents say it sends mixed messages to children about the virtue of abstinence before marriage.

In February 2013 the MHCBE voted against offering in-school administration of the HPV Vaccine. But the board changed its mind eight months later after the national organization HPV Canada, a pro-vaccine organization that exclusively targets Catholic schools not yet offering the vaccine, set its sights on the board. 

In October, the board voted in favor of offering in-school HPV vaccination to girls through Alberta Health Services (AHS), but only if parental consent was first provided.

Prior to the October vote, Calgary Bishop Fred Henry said the vaccine uses medicine to “palliate our vices”. He recommended encouraging abstinence and monogamy as the best way of curbing sexually transmitted infections.

While the board stated in November that the HPV vaccine is “incongruent with the educative mission of our Catholic Schools” it nonetheless authorized the use of its facilities by AHS for the purpose of delivering the government immunization program.

MHCBE Board of Trustees chairman Peter Grad told that the decision to allow AHS to give the boys the HPV Vaccine in its facilities had “nothing to do with the research on HPV or the ethical debate surrounding it, but rather on the [administrative procedure] which has already been approved.”

Grad explained that when Mastel called the decision a “no-brainer,” he was referring to the fact that the board's decision to allow the vaccine through the doors of its schools in October was not related to gender.

“As such, we are not revisiting the [administrative procedure” or the medical/ethical discussions surrounding HPV,” he said.