Ontario Bishops Warn Catholic Trustees Against HPV Vaccine - Second Board Delays Vaccination Program

 By John-Henry Westen

BURLINGTON, September 14, 2007 ( - In a September 13 letter to Catholic trustees and parents in the Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB), Hamilton Bishop Anthony Tonnos has warned against the introduction of the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine.  The letter, sent with his signature, was drafted at a September 10 meeting of the Ontario Bishops Conference following a request from Catholic school boards.

By order of the Ontario Liberal Government, the vaccines were to be administered in schools in the Catholic board beginning the first day of school but the measure was delayed after trustees requested a delay until the measure could be debated and voted on.

"Infection with HPV or other sexually transmitted diseases can occur only through sexual activity, which carries with it profound risks to a young person’s spiritual, emotional, moral and physical health," says the Bishops’ letter.  "The Bishops note that, at best, a vaccine can only be potentially effective against one of these risks, that to physical health, and may have other unintended and unwanted consequences."

"Sexual activity is appropriate only within marriage," continues the letter.  "Outside of marriage, abstinence is not only clearly the choice that leads to spiritual and moral wellbeing, but it is obviously the best protection against risks of disease."

The Bishops also warn of health risks since the long-term effects of the vaccination have not been tested.  "There is no consensus among those involved in public health in Canada that HPV vaccination is the most prudent strategy in terms of allocating health care resources to address the goal of preventing deaths resulting from cervical cancer," says the letter.  "The Bishops of Ontario regret its introduction without further opportunity for thorough study of all of the effects of this program.  The best interests of children demands that parents and guardians be fully informed before granting consent."

In light of the concern from the Bishops, HCDSB trustee Anthony Danko has formulated a resolution opposing the HPV vaccines which is scheduled for a vote at the next trustee meeting on September 18.

Taking into account the concerns of the Bishops, the resolution proposes that the board will not support the administration of the "controversial" vaccine and that the vaccine not be permitted to be administered on board property. reported yesterday that the trustees of the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board objected to implementing a plan to vaccinate girls in that board’s Catholic schools and have had the measure delayed.

To contact trustees at the HCDSB school board:

Joanne Matters

Rosanna Palmieri

Anthony Danko

Alice Anne LeMay

Teanna Lobo

Erin Gamble

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