All Year 8 children can receive free immunisations at participating schools to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can lead to several types of cancer.

Parents across the Bay of Plenty will be getting information about the opportunity to receive the free HPV immunisation being offered at school.

"HPV is a common virus; around four in five people will catch HPV at some point in their life, putting them at risk of some cancers. Immunising children when the vaccine is most effective, and before they may be exposed to HPV, will best protect their health over the long term. My advice is that you should make sure that your child gets the opportunity to reduce their cancer risk for the future," Medical Officer of Health for Toi Te Ora Public Health Dr Jim Miller said.

Public health nurses were visiting participating schools during February and immunisations would begin in early March.

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Children would be given information to bring home to discuss with their parents and caregivers.

"Please look out for the consent form; read, sign and return the form to school. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions," clinical nurse manager for Community Health 4 Kids Karen Thomas said.

"The vaccine is safe and very good at preventing HPV infection, and therefore at reducing the risks of HPV-related cancers in their future," says 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 further information visit www.health.govt.nz/hpv

- Supplied copy

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