Canterbury parents are opting to get their daughters immunised against cervical cancer when they are older. A GP spokesman said that decision was the reason for Canterbury having the lowest Gardasil vaccination rate in the country for girls aged 12 to 14. Gardasil protects girls from a sexually transmitted infection, the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to 99 per cent of all cervical cancer. In Canterbury, the vaccine, which has three doses, is administered by GPs. In other areas, girls can get the injections at school. Just one-fifth of Canterbury girls born between 1996 and 1998 have had all three vaccine doses – less than half the rates in Auckland and Wellington, where more than 40 per cent are fully immunised. The free vaccination programme began in September 2008 for girls aged 18 and 19. It was extended to girls as young as 12 in January 2009.
..Pegasus Health senior clinical leader Simon Wynn-Thomas said the difference was mainly because the programme was managed through Canterbury GPs. He said the GP system meant parents and children were getting good advice and there was a more “meaningful informed consent process”. “We are finding that many parents are asking for their daughters to start their vaccination programme when they are a little older,” he said.