By The Canadian Press - Sunday, May 5, 2013 - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Alberta is looking at including boys in a free school vaccination program…
EDMONTON – Alberta is looking at including boys in a free school vaccination program that protects girls from a virus that causes cervical and other types of deadly cancers.
The HPV vaccine was first offered to Grade 5 girls in the province in 2008. Since then, the province estimates about 61 per cent of girls between the ages of nine and 13 have received the shots.
This summer, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and other officials are to meet with their counterparts across Canada in Ottawa to discuss the medical effectiveness of the vaccine when given to boys.
“It is something Alberta is considering. But the decision will ultimately be based on evidence in terms of whether it works for boys or not,” said Alberta Health spokesman Bart Johnson.
“And that is evidence that is going to be discussed between our chief medical officer of health and his counterparts across the country.”
The vaccine protects against human papillomaviruses, which causes cervical cancer, head and neck cancers, anal and penile cancers and genital warts.
Last month, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada urged provincial health ministers to include boys in their HPV vaccine programs.
The society has said extending the vaccine to boys would protect them against some cancers and genital warts. It would also cut the risk of girls becoming infected through sexual contact.
So far, Prince Edward Island is the only province that has announced it intends to extend its HPV vaccine program to boys.
Johnson said Dr. John Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, will make a recommendation to the province based on the national discussions.
The Alberta government would then make a decision weighing the pros and cons, including the cost.
Currently the province says it spends $3 million per year on its HPV vaccination program.
“This decision will be based on a careful consideration of that evidence as well as a cost-benefit analysis,” Johnson said. “And then ultimately Alberta will make its decision on its own.”
Last year the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which reviews the scientific literature on vaccines, recommended vaccinating boys in a submission to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, said the province is already getting enquiries from parents who want their sons to get the shots.
He said his government will be looking more closely at the idea of extending its HPV vaccine program to boys, but not this year.
Like other provincial governments, he said Saskatchewan must consider how practical such a policy would be.
Shahab said studies show boys are at less of a risk of contracting cancer from the virus. Governments must also consider how many boys would actually get the vaccine.
“The cost effectiveness factor is not that great for boys,” he said.
“Obviously cost is not the only thing you should look at health care, but with so many competing varieties (of disease), it is one thing we have to consider.”
Shahab said if more jurisdictions decide to extend their HPV programs to boys, the cost of the vaccine may come down. Currently, Gardasil is the only vaccine approved for use on boys and young men in Canada.
In 2008 Alberta was one of the last provinces to approve the use of the HPV vaccine for girls, a move that was opposed by some Catholic school boards on moral grounds.
Last November, the Calgary Catholic School Board reconsidered its opposition and voted to allow school-based HPV vaccinations for girls. In order to receive the vaccine a student must have written consent from parents.
The Grande Prairie Catholic and District School Board has been holding parent and community meetings this spring as it reconsiders its opposition to allowing the vaccine to be given to girls in its schools. The board is expected to vote on its policy later this month or in June.
By Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 6:05 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Provincial and territorial HPV vaccination programs should be expanded to cover boys,…
TORONTO – Provincial and territorial HPV vaccination programs should be expanded to cover boys, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada said Thursday.
The professional organization’s CEO, Dr. Jennifer Blake, wrote to ministers of health across the country urging them to follow the lead of Prince Edward Island, which will be opening up its program to both genders.
“P.E.I. has been the first province to actually take the initiative and extend the program to boys. And so it really makes it much harder to justify not doing this right across the country,” Blake said in an interview.
By Stephanie Findlay - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 2:53 PM - 0 Comments
A vaccine creates controversy in Calgary, is accepted in Pretoria
Death by cervical cancer is “horrible,” says Leon Snyman. “It’s not a disease that kills you quickly.” For the past two years, Snyman, an adjunct professor of gynecology at South Africa’s University of Pretoria, has been inoculating adolescent girls with the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, a preventative treatment for cervical cancer. Snyman says the vaccine has been greeted with enthusiasm: roughly 70 per cent of girls are choosing to be vaccinated. “People are not afraid of vaccines,” he says.
He’s having a far easier time than Juliet Guichon is. For the past four years, the University of Calgary bioethicist has been fighting to overturn the Calgary Catholic School Board’s ban on the vaccine, which targets strains of the virus most often contracted from sex. In November, the ban was overturned. But Guichon has found victory “sort of bittersweet,” she says. “Although we’ve succeeded in opening the door to the vaccine, it’s a shame it had to take this long.”
As many Catholic school boards in Alberta, Ontario and the Northwest Territories continue to ban the HPV vaccine, the Canadian government is helping fund what could be one of the largest rollouts of the vaccine in the world. Canada has committed $225 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI); in Tanzania last month, it announced the launch of a pilot run of the vaccine in sub-Saharan Africa with a goal of vaccinating more than 30 million girls. Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Monday, October 26, 2009 at 11:18 AM - 1 Comment
Girls in New Brunswick will get the HPV shot, but not this year
As New Brunswick prepares to inoculate residents against swine flu, another public health program is falling by the wayside. Hundreds of health care workers, from nursing students to retirees, are being recruited to administer the H1N1 vaccine—meaning the HPV vaccine must be put on hold. This year, about 2,500 Grade 7 girls will not receive a shot to protect them from the human papilloma virus, which can cause genital warts and cervical cancer.
According to the “Canadian Cancer Statistics” report, about seven Canadians per 100,000 were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available. Thanks to the HPV vaccine, “it’s the first genital cancer that’s preventable,” says Dr. André Lalonde, executive vice-president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. As such, he notes, “it’s a major breakthrough in health.” Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Monday, November 10, 2008 at 1:53 PM - 9 Comments
It’s been more than two years since Health Canada approved Gardasil, a vaccine that…
It’s been more than two years since Health Canada approved Gardasil, a vaccine that protects against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Today, Gardasil is approved for women aged 9 to 26, and by now, countless young women have received the vaccine. This fall, for example, Ontario is once again offering it to all Grade 8 girls, free of charge. Supporters of the HPV vaccine say it’s a great step forward for women’s health: after all, the virus causes between 90 and 98 per cent of all cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer among females worldwide.
But it’s not just women who are at risk from HPV, which infects at least 50 per cent of sexually active women and men. In fact, some types of HPV-associated cancer are now on the rise among men. It’s got some people wondering if men shouldn’t get vaccinated, too.