Public Education and Public Health - The HPV Vaccine

I was all set to go on a tirade against the Catholic school system for attempting to thwart local health units HPV vaccine programs. However it appears that the boards have backed down from their threat to put religion before public health. But it could have happened.

The Catholic Church is free to have it’s religious position on non-marital sex but do the church leaders really believe that Jesus would have thought cervical cancer was an appropriate punishment for engaging in non-marital sex.

Our public health system uses the school system to provide effective and efficient vaccination programs. None of the vaccines provided are without controversy, including the HPV vaccine. But it is the responsibility of our public health system to decide which are appropriate to be provided, not the responsibility of religious leaders. The HPV vaccine program is supported by medical experts as well as federal, provincial and local health officials.

This is just another example of the problem with publicly funded religious based schools. It goes beyond education into public health. The Catholics may have backed down but there are certainly many “Christian” and other religious schools that will not allow public health units to use their schools to provide the HPV vaccine, or perhaps any vaccines. With the extension of public funding to all religious schools this will become a real problem, whether the schools co-operate or not.

The benefit of using the school system to provide vaccinations, and this applies to all vaccines including the standard childhood vaccines, is the efficiency provided by only having to deal with two school systems in each community. With public funding of all religious schools we will undoubtedly have more of them and the effectiveness of using the school system to provide vaccines will be greatly diminished.

And, of course, the effectiveness of sex education to prevent the spread of STDs and HIV/AIDS, as well as reduce teenage pregnancies, will also be reduced by the increased number of religious based schools.

Public education and public health go hand in hand and that is just one more reason to have a single public education system.

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