Free HPV immunisations for Year 8 girls will be given out in Western Bay schools next month.

Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service is urging parents across the Bay of Plenty to ensure their daughter is protected from cervical cancer by taking advantage of the free HPV immunisations being offered at school.

Year 8 girls at participating schools are being offered free immunisations to protect them against the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV causes almost all cervical cancer. The vaccine is safe and very good at preventing HPV infection, and therefore at reducing the risks of cervical cancer for women in the future.

The public health nurses have been visiting participating schools during February and immunisations will begin in early March. The girls have been given information to bring home to discuss with their parents and caregivers.

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"I encourage parents to ensure they have received the consent form from their daughter and to read, sign and return the form to school," said Dr Jim Miller, medical officer of health for Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service.

"Preventing HPV helps to ensure a healthier future for young girls and women."

Currently about 160 women get a cervical cancer diagnosis every year in New Zealand, each year about 50 women die from the illness.

"My advice is that you should make sure that your daughter gets the opportunity to reduce their cancer risk for the future," said Dr Miller.

If parents would like to discuss or get more information they can speak to a public health nurse on (07) 577 3383 for the Western Bay area, or for the Eastern Bay area call (07) 306 0944. Alternatively, parents can also contact their family doctor or practice nurse for more information.

For further information visit www.health.govt.nz/hpv