The Cancer Society of New Zealand has launched a campaign to encourage the uptake of the free HPV vaccine that protects against six types of cancer. It comes after concerns that childhood HPV vaccination rates have plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Public health nurses provide the HPV vaccine through school immunisation programmes. However, due to the different Covid-19 lockdowns, approximately 45,000 young people have missed out on the vaccine.*
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects against the strains of the HPV virus, which can lead to cervical and anal cancer and most vaginal, vulval, penile and throat cancers. The best time to be vaccinated is around 11 or 12 years old. At this age, the vaccine works best and provides long-term protection.
Cancer Society Medical Director Dr Kate Gregory says: “We are very fortunate that the HPV vaccination is free in New Zealand. All tamariki – both boys and girls - should have the HPV vaccine to protect them from developing cancer in later life. We encourage tamariki who have missed out on receiving the vaccination or didn’t receive the full dose at school or kura to visit their whānau doctor, GP or medical centre.”
The Cancer Society has today launched a campaign to raise awareness about preventing HPV-related cancers. In addition, it has developed a toolkit for health promoters to spread the word in community settings.
Nicola Hill, Chief Executive Te Aho o Te Kahu adds: “HPV vaccination is free, widely available, and effective in protecting against a range of cancers. Being diagnosed with cancer is life-changing for people and their whānau, and being able to prevent cancer in the first place is ideal. Comprehensive and equitable HPV vaccination coverage in Aotearoa is an important way to protect the health of our young people, now and into the future.”
For more information about HPV vaccination: www.cancer.org.nz/hpv-awareness
The Cancer Society campaign video is available here.
*Source: Seqirus NZ (sole distributor of the HPV vaccine in New Zealand).
Cancer Society Medical Director Dr Kate Gregory is available for comments. To schedule an interview, please contact:
Communications Advisor Cancer Society of New Zealand
021 172 8036
About the Cancer Society of New Zealand
The Cancer Society of New Zealand is the country's leading organisation dedicated to reducing the incidence of cancer and ensuring the best cancer care for New Zealanders. We are committed to working with communities and decision makers by providing leadership and advocacy in cancer control, with core services in information and support, research and health promotion.