Tasmania boosts vaccinations for adolescents

Vaccination

Major changes to the free vaccination program for high school students from next year will ensure young people are better protected from serious diseases.

The changes will focus on introducing the Gardasil vaccination for boys in 2013 and shifting all routine school-based adolescent vaccinations into Year 7 over the next two years.

The moves will better protect young people from preventable illnesses, streamline the current vaccination process and ensure a consistent program statewide.

Vaccinations are important for the health of a child and for the community, and these changes will strengthen the protection vaccinations offer.

All boys in Year 7, as well as girls, will be offered the free Gardasil vaccination to protect them against the human papillomavirus (HPV) from next year.

Earlier this year, the Australian Government announced funding for the HPV vaccine for all boys across the country; it has been available for girls since 2007.

The HPV vaccine will now be routinely delivered to boys in Year 7 across Tasmania, while boys in Year 9 can get the vaccine at school in a catch-up program in 2013 and 2014.

Gardasil has been shown to be safe and effective in preventing the common types of HPV infections that can cause cancers in both men and women.

The second change will see all routine school-based adolescent vaccinations, including the whooping cough vaccine, offered to students in Year 7.

This change will be brought in during 2013 and 2014 and is aimed at improving adolescent vaccination rates.

To date, vaccinations have been provided in either Grade 6 or 7 depending on the local government area.

Providing all vaccinations in Grade 7 will avoid the risk of students missing a vaccination if they move from a primary school to a secondary school in a different area.

From next year, all Tasmanian high school students will receive their whooping cough booster in Year 7.

Shifting the whooping cough booster to Year 7 will target an age group where the disease is common and help better control whooping cough in the wider population.

Students in years 7, 8 and 9 in 2012, will receive a whooping cough booster at school during 2013 and 2014.

The Communicable Diseases Unit within the Department of Health and Human Services has been working with local government and environmental health officers to implement the new program.

26 November 2012