01 March 2011 | 07:00:00 AM | Source: AAP
A quarter of Australian girls eligible for the free Gardasil vaccine are not taking up the offer, prompting a move to dispel the “myths” surrounding the cancer-fighting jab.
Studies into the vaccine’s uptake in schools reveal a poor understanding of the way it protects against cervical cancer, says Cancer Council Australia spokeswoman Kate Broun.
Some parents are also put off by their pubescent daughters being offered a vaccine targeting a sexually transmitted infection when the girls are only 12 or 13 and far from being sexually active.
“For some parents that has been a concern and it is a reason they have not consented to the vaccine,” Ms Broun said on Monday.
“But I guess we would say there is no evidence to suggest that a girl who has been vaccinated has gone on to have sex earlier, or have any more sexual partners, than a girl who has not been vaccinated.”
“Perhaps that is a fear for some parents but it is not a fear backed by the evidence.”
Health authorities aim to administer the Gardasil vaccine before sexual activity begins, to maximise its effectiveness.