BURLINGTON, Ontario, Oct. 21, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Halton Catholic District School Board will vote Nov. 5th on a motion to allow the public health department into the schools to offer the controversial vaccine for the sexually transmitted infection HPV, rather than leave it to parents to take their children in for the vaccine on their own.
At the school board’s regular meeting on Oct. 15th, they voted to consider a motion rescinding the board’s 2008 ban on using the schools to disseminate the vaccine. That ban had been put in place because of concerns over the drug’s safety and on the belief that it would undermine the Church’s teaching that sex be reserved for marriage.
The board’s decision to revisit the issue has sparked a heated response from Catholic ratepayers, with an online petition garnering over 1,500 signatures to date.
Teresa Pierre, PhD, president of Parents as First Educators, which launched the petition, is calling on the board’s ratepayers to contact their trustees right away and urge them to uphold the ban.
“Tell them that you are relying on the board to set the right moral example for your children,” she said.
“Ratepayers can make their opinions known by signing the online PAFE petition to keep the ban on the HPV vaccine in place,” she added. “Please sign the petition and encourage your friends and family to sign it.”
Sign PAFE’s petition here.
Dr. Moira McQueen, a theologian at St. Michael’s College in Toronto and executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute, has expressed strong concerns over the use of Catholic schools for the vaccine.
“If parents want their children to receive the HPV vaccine, they can take it upon themselves to do so,” she told LifeSiteNews earlier this month. “School boards do not NEED to be involved and there is no urgent need, such as a public health threat like a flu epidemic, for health authorities to use school premises.”
“I think in these days of informed consent public health authorities should be more aware that parents should be treated like adults who can and should make their own decisions, and not simply be expected to fill in yet another form from a school board or health authority, almost as a matter of routine,” she continued. “This is a complex moral issue, and many parents are hesitating, not just Catholics. That shows it is not nearly as straightforward as public health officials would like it to be.”
Trustee Anthony Danko has raised concerns over consent, noting that during their previous debates on the vaccine, the health department told them Ontario’s Health Care Consent Act indicates children can get the vaccine without parental involvement.
“Parents can’t be sure that their wishes are going to be followed,” he said. “The Health Care Consent Act is a big question mark.”
“I’m sure that there are other beneficial things that the health unit offers,” he added. “What will the health unit ask us to do next?”
Rescinding the ban will require a vote by two thirds of the trustees, and observers are predicting it could be a close call.
When the issue was first raised at the board’s Oct. 1st meeting, trustee Ed Viana expressed disapproval of changing board policy, raising concerns over health issues with the vaccine. But at the Oct. 15th meeting he voted with the majority to schedule a vote for Nov. 5th.
The school board initially allowed Halton’s health department to use their schools to give grade 8 girls the HPV vaccine in the fall of 2007. But they reversed course in June 2008 after parents expressed concerns.
Among the chief concerns about the vaccine has been the high number of adverse reactions reported after taking it. In August, the British Medical Journal published an article with strong evidence showing that a 16 year-old Australian girl was made infertile due to the vaccine.
In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration received reports of 28 deaths associated with the HPV vaccine. Among the 6,723 adverse reactions reported that year, 142 were deemed life threatening and 1,061 were considered serious.
Concerns over side effects have been so grave in other parts of the world that countries are starting to pull their support for the vaccine. Earlier this year, Japan announced they would stop recommending it while they conduct further investigation after reports of 2,000 adverse events, including 106 “serious cases of pains or body convulsions, pains in joints, or difficulty in walking.”
The school board has uploaded a video of the Oct. 15th meeting on their Youtube page but the audio is poor for the section of the meeting dealing with the HPV issue.
Find contact information for school board trustees here.