Closeup of doctor giving a vaccination to a young patient. (Illustrative).
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The vaccination rate among eighth-graders against human papilloma virus (HPV) – for prevention of cervical cancer – in schools dropped and the rate of refusals to get the shot increased significantly last year.
The refusal rate was especially high in Jerusalem, where observant Jewish families said it was unnecessary to give girls or boys the shots since the sexually transmitted virus was not relevant to those who “don’t have intercourse” before marriage.
The Health Ministry, which released a School Health Service report for publication on Thursday, blamed “negative social media and media” reports for the decline in willingness to have the shot. Only 52% of eight-graders got the shot during the previous school year (2016-2017) compared with nearly 66% during the previous school year. The refusal rate in Jerusalem was almost 70% in the past year.
The report stated that “is important to continue information activities in a variety of ways, through service providers and ministry spokespersons, to increase the rate of HPV vaccination.”
Not all public health experts regard the HPV vaccine as mandatory, as it has not been proven to prevent all types of cervical cancer and may produce side effects; instead, they advocate regular Pap smears at relevant ages. Cervical cancer can occur in women whose sexual partners are infected; the vaccine is given to boys to try to prevent them from infecting their female partners in the future.
Unlike HPV virus, vaccination rates for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis or whooping cough was much higher in the schools, over 90%. So was the vaccination rate for MMRV vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella and varicella or chickenpox).
In the 2016-2017 school year, flu shots were added to the vaccine routine for second-graders. Children and adults can also get free flu vaccine at their health funds. In the same year, 55% of second-graders got flu shots, and 42% refused.
In the school year, School Health Services, which included hearing and posture tests at appropriate ages, were provided to 1.3 million pupils in grades in grades one to one. The service was provided by three private suppliers: Natalie in the Jerusalem, Haifa and Northern districts; Femi Health in the Tel Aviv District; and the Health Ministry’s public health nurses in the southern and Ashkelon districts.
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The government privatized the School Health Service years ago, but was forced to restore the public service in the southern and Ashkelon district because the companies failed to provide adequate services.
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