Thousands of Gold Coast teenagers are being offered free vaccinations to protect them from cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Gold Coast Health will visit 47 education providers as part of the School Immunisation Program, which kicks off this week.
Public Health Physician Dr Anu Anuradha said the immunisation team was working closely with all public and private secondary schools to deliver the program over the next nine months.
“We are contacting parents via email and SMS with access to an online form. If parents are unable to complete the online form they can collect a hardcopy version from the school office, or download one from the Gold Coast Health immunisation web page,” she said.
“We’re strongly encouraging parents to sign and return the consent form, even if they are opting not to include their child in the program.
“National data shows the percentage of Gold Coast adolescents who had received all doses of HPV vaccine was lower than the national average, so this year we are working really hard to improve that record,” Dr Anuradha said.
School Immunisation Program vaccinations include:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) – two doses at least six months apart
- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) – one booster dose
- Meningococcal ACWY – one dose
HPV is a common viral infection that affects about 85% of people in their life-time and can cause cervical and other types of cancer. The HPV vaccine offers protection against more than 90% of HPV strains and is most effective when given in early adolescence.
Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but serious infection can be fatal if not urgently treated. It can cause a blood infection or meningitis.
The meningococcal ACWY vaccines provides good protection against several strains of the meningococcal bacteria.
Dr Anuradha said these immunisations were safe and effective, designed to protect young people and reduce risks for the community by decreasing the proportion of people carrying the diseases.
“Meningococcal ACWY vaccination programs targeting adolescents have been effectively implemented in the US since 2005 and in the UK since 2015.”
Only students with a completed and signed consent form will be vaccinated at the school clinics.
“We are urging parents to take a few minutes to complete the form and record their decision,” Dr Anuradha said.
Students who miss getting their vaccines at the school clinic can be vaccinated by attending a free community clinic or through their GPs.
Gold Coast Public Health Unit runs regular community immunisation clinics where Coast families can access all vaccines on the National
Immunisation Schedule for free. For clinic dates and times visit the Gold Coast Health website.
Phone 1800 940 750 for more information.