B.C. takes significant step forward in preventing cancer with HPV vaccine

Expanding BC’s HPV vaccination program to all genders. In October

January 10, 2017 (Vancouver, BC) – The Canadian Cancer Society calls the recent BC Government announcement to provide the HPV vaccine to all genders through schools a significant move forward in public health policy. The Society believes this change, which will take place in September 2017, will have an enormous impact in reducing children’s future risk of  HPV related cancers.

The Society has been a vocal advocate for expanding BC’s HPV vaccination program to all genders. In October, the Society released the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016 publication, which revealed cancers of the mouth and throat caused by HPV are rising dramatically among Canadian men and are poised to surpass the rate of cervical cancer in females. This new evidence points to the growing need for vaccination for all genders, not just females.

“We are very pleased with Premier Christy Clark and Minister Terry Lake’s decision to expand HPV vaccination coverage to include Grade 6 boys,” explains Sandra Krueckl, Vice President, Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society. “BC joins six other provinces in the country that have already expanded their HPV vaccination programs to all genders. This will make a significant difference in preventing cancer and is something we can all be proud of.”

Until now, the HPV vaccine was publicly funded and available in school for females in Grade 6. Males did not have equal access to the vaccine and were only offered it if they were considered at an ‘increased risk’ of contracting HPV.

An estimated 75 per cent of Canadians will have a HPV infection in their lifetime and some of these infections can lead to cancer including anal, penile, cervical, vagina, vulvar, mouth and throat cancers as well as anogenital warts. Men are two to four times more likely to be diagnosed with an HPV oral cancer than women.

“The HPV virus does not discriminate based on gender,” adds Krueckl. “Every person, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation and social status should have an equal and affordable opportunity to protection from HPV.”

Under the old policy, males were reliant on females for protection from the virus. This was concerning because of BC’s varying vaccination rates. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, a third of the girls eligible for the vaccine have not been vaccinated.

“It’s troubling that so many females eligible for the vaccine are not getting vaccinated,” says Krueckl. “No one should have to rely solely on their partner for protection from a cancer-causing virus. With more Grade 6 males vaccinated, all genders will be protected and fewer people will be infected with HPV, which means fewer people will be at risk for developing cancer. That’s a clear win.”

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).


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