Students put their best arm forward

THE needles are out.

This year’s immunisation of Warrnambool secondary school students has begun with the city determined to maintain its better than state average record in vaccinating young people against a number of serious diseases.

Warrnambool City Council immunisation co-ordinator Alison Elliott said about 90 per cent of local secondary students were vaccinated, well ahead of the state average of 73 per cent.

One of the reasons for Warrnambool’s high vaccination rate was because schools worked well with parents and students to get consent for the jabs, Ms Elliott said.

Good media coverage of the immunisation campaigns also helped achieve the high vaccination rate, she said.

The first step in this year’s campaign took place at Brauer College yesterday with more than 280 year 7, 9 and 10 students receiving either the first dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine or the diphtheria/tetanus/whooping cough vaccine.

Ms Elliott said about 1500 Warrnambool secondary students would receive immunisations shots during the next few weeks.

The HPV vaccine is offered in three doses, which means about 4000 doses will be given to Warrnambool year 7 and 9 students between this month and October, she said.

The HPV virus greatly reduces the risk of two HPV types that cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers in women and 90 per cent of HPV-related cancers in men.

It also protects against two HPV types that cause genital warts. 

Cancer Council Victoria prevention director Craig Sinclair said HPV was a common sexually transmitted infection. “The vaccine works best if given before exposure to the virus has taken place,” Mr Sinclair said.

“This is why it’s so important for boys and girls to complete the three-dose vaccine at a young age,” he said.

Ms Elliott said year 7 students would also receive a chicken pox vaccine later this year.

A national shortage of the chicken pox vaccine meant it was not available for yesterday’s immunisation sessions. 

The vaccines are provided free under the National Immunisation Program.

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