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Prev Med. 2013 Nov;57(5):409-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.06.005. Epub 2013 Jun 13.

Citizen intervention in a religious ban on in-school HPV vaccine administration in Calgary, Canada.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Drive N.W. Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada. Electronic address:


In 2008, Alberta Roman Catholic Bishops' discouraged in-school HPV vaccination because: "a school-based approach to vaccination sends a message that early sexual intercourse is allowed, as long as one uses 'protection.'" The publicly funded Calgary Catholic School District Board voted against in-school HPV vaccine administration. In 2009, vaccine uptake was 70% in Calgary public schools and 18.9% in Calgary Catholic schools. To physician-citizens who requested in-school vaccination, the elected school trustees repeatedly responded that they were "directed" by the bishop. When trustees refused to hear from the city's chief oncologist, a citizen's group was created and held a June 2012 media event to help overturn the ban. The Board remained intransigent until the citizen's group threatened legal action, former senior administrators pressured the Board, Pediatrics reported that the HPV vaccine had no effect on sexual behavior, and the bishop told trustees that they could consult school councils. 87% (91/104) of school councils approved in-school HPV vaccine administration. On November 28, 2012, the Board permitted the HPV vaccine, four years after first requested by public health officials. This paper outlines a successful health campaign that may serve as a model for addressing unwarranted concerns about community health programs dedicated to improving public health.


AHS; Alberta Health Services; Board; Board of Trustees of the Calgary Catholic School District; CCSD; Calgary Catholic School District; Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization; Cancer prevention; Catholicism; Discrimination; HPV; NACI; Public advocacy; Public health; Vaccination; human papillomavirus

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