Milestone for school HPV vaccination program

A new online portal will help parents consent to their children being vaccinated

A row of desks with the government logo superimposed on the image A row of desks with the government logo superimposed on the image

Parents are being offered a new tool to help them stay on top of their child’s school vaccinations as the new academic year gets under way.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW Health had launched a convenient new online portal for parents to consent to their child being vaccinated in the free school vaccination program.

Parents were also strongly encouraged to access any missed vaccines through their GP and pharmacist immunisers.

Mr Hazzard said the reminder came as recent changes to the National Immunisation Program had reduced the HPV vaccination schedule to a single dose for the majority of people aged under 25. People who are immunocomprimised will need to continue with the recommended three-dose schedule.

“Almost one million students have been vaccinated against HPV since the school program was expanded to include both girls and boys in 2013,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused some disruption to the usually high take-up rates of HPV jabs, so the new school year is the perfect time to get back on track.

“Before COVID-19, around 85 per cent of students were vaccinated against HPV each year but that has fallen in 2022 with 71 per cent of males and 75 per cent of females in Year 7 being vaccinated. So 2023 is our chance to lift those rates again.

“The new online portal will help NSW Health to streamline registrations for all school-based vaccinations by removing any chance of parental consent forms getting lost or damaged in school bags, or forgotten.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell welcomed the milestone and the key role schools had played in the program.

“Schools are the centre of their communities and they’ve played a pivotal role in helping young people get vaccinated. Having the service at schools makes it easier for parents to make sure their child is protected and I’d encourage any parents with children who missed out to take up the opportunity,” Ms Mitchell said.

Schools will provide the link to the online consent portal directly to parents before the planned school vaccination visit.

The world-leading HPV school vaccination program, together with cervical screening, has Australia on track to be the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer.

If vaccination rates get back to pre-COVID levels, the HPV school vaccination program is likely to see a reduction of cervical cancer of up to 90 per cent in the coming years.

Strains of HPV can lead to mouth cancer, throat cancer, cervical cancer and various cancers of the genital area in men and women. Signs of infection are often not visible.

NSW Health Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant urged parents to use the portal to ensure their kids were up to date with their school vaccinations to help keep them safe.

“The benefits of vaccination against HPV are greatest when given before exposure to the virus, which is why we offer vaccination to all students in Year 7,” Dr Chant said.

The change to a single dose is based on advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), which has considered the latest international scientific and clinical evidence showing a single dose gives comparable protection against HPV infection in healthy young people.

The Australian Government has provided HPV vaccine free to girls aged 12-17 years since 2007, through the national HPV vaccination school-based program. Males were added to the program in 2013. The cervical screening program was established in 1991.

The NSW Government has invested approximately $148 million in the 2022-23 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

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