A Calgary advocacy group pushing for the Catholic School Board to allow public health nurses to vaccinate Catholic students with the HPV vaccine is preparing to sue the board for access.
Legal scholar Juliet Guichon of Calgary HPV says “the diplomatic approach was very seriously undertaken,” in past efforts to sway the board, but it has refused to reopen any discussion over whether or not to allow students to be vaccinated on school grounds.
“They take direction from the bishop [Fred Henry], because this is a moral issue. We say it is a public health issue,” says Guichon. “Even if it were a moral issue, we say the Catholic faith is very concerned about issues of social justice.” Guichon explains that while students can receive the vaccine for free at community clinics, statistics show people from poorer families are less likely to do so; that vaccinations they receive are most likely administered at school. She says the boards’ refusal to allow at-school HPV vaccinations is an unfair barrier to students who would only be inoculated at school.
Because the vaccine must be administered in three doses over the course of a year, Calgary HPV says time is of the essence if the vaccine is to reach the 2,000 female students in the catholic school system this year.
Calgary HPV has not yet filed suit. It is still collecting donations to support litigation. More information can be found on its website at hugyourkids.org. The Catholic School Board has not issued a response.