Rotorua parents are being urged to ensure their daughters are 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 good at preventing HPV infection, reducing the risks of cervical cancer in the future.

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Public health nurses have been visiting participating schools during February and immunisations will begin in March.

The girls have been given information to bring home to discuss with their parents and caregivers.

"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.

Around 160 women get a cervical cancer diagnosis every year in New Zealand, each year around 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," Dr Miller said.

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