Following a call to action from a number of health organizations including Doctors of BC, the provincial government has announced that starting September 2017, BC will become the latest province to provide the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination to boys as part of BC’s publicly funded immunization program. “We need to do everything we can to help girls and boys grow up to be healthy adults,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.
While originally developed to fight cervical cancer, the HPV vaccine has since been a proven and effective way to prevent many different types of cancers affecting both young women and men. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, and the vaccine is most effective when administered before a child is first exposed to the virus. As a means to improve and broaden protection, the immunization program will be expanded to include Grade 6 boys, and will become part of the regular school-based immunization clinics. It can also be requested through health-care providers and local public-health units.
A study by the Canadian Cancer Society in October 2016 found that HPV-caused malignant tumours in the mouth and throat had risen dramatically among men, and could surpass the rate of HPV-induced cervical cancer in women. In early June 2016 the Canadian Cancer Society submitted a letter to BC Minister of Health Terry Lake requesting BC’s HPV vaccination program be expanded to include all genders. Doctors of BC fully supported this move and signed the letter which can be read in full here.
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