Yellowknife Catholic school board votes to allow HPV shots

Yellowknife's Catholic School Board voted Wednesday night to allow HPV vaccinations to take place in their schools.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is linked to cervical cancer. The Northwest Territories offers the series of three HPV vaccinations free to girls in Grade 4.

In 2009, the school board voted against allowing the vaccinations to be given at the schools, citing a lack of medical information about it.

Steven Voytilla, a new board member and father of two girls, pushed to have the idea of offering the vaccination in the schools reviewed.

“I've been following this vaccine story since last time the board visited the issue,” he said. “I've been watching and researching myself."

At the meeting a pediatrician answered questions, and a woman named Audrey Farrier told the board her story. She contracted HPV through unwanted sexual contact as a teen.

The infection affected her cervix and later caused her son to be born extremely premature — weighing only one pound.

"This is not something that's shown to increase promiscuity, it's there to protect the reproductive health of your daughters and wives, and ultimately it's going to protect your unborn children," she said.

“I would have done anything to have prevented this for my son. I wish I'd had a vaccine."

Former board member Rose-Marie Jackson says she pushed for the vaccination back in 2009. She said having a human face this time tipped the vote.

“The story really affected someone,” she said. “That person is telling their story, sharing their pictures of their child." The vaccine will begin being offered at Yellowknife Catholic schools in September.