While most HPV infections go away over time with no treatment, a few can go on to cause cancer.
Health Minister Sharon Blady said the province’s vaccine program will be expanded next year to include Grade 6 and Grade 9 boys as part of Manitoba’s cancer strategy.
The province will also be doing a catch-up period in grade 9. About 59 percent of the physicians recommended HPV vaccination more often for adolescents who they perceived to be at higher risk for getting an HPV infection, as opposed to recommending it routinely for all adolescents.
“Human papillomavirus can cause abnormal cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer, as well as cancer of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, mouth and throat”, said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and CEO, CancerCare Manitoba.
A study in Texas found that a more rigorous, information driven outreach program increased the number of children receiving the vaccine, and other recent studies have reinforced the efficacy of the vaccine to prevent cancer and not promote promiscuity among teenagers.
Any girl or boy who misses the vaccine in Grade 6 will be eligible to get it in later years free of charge under the province’s “once eligible, always eligible”, program. But now we know it causes cancer in men as well.
Gilkey and colleagues found that 27 percent of physicians across the country reported that they do not strongly endorse HPV vaccination, and 26 percent and 39 percent reported that they do not provide timely recommendations for vaccinating girls and boys, respectively.
“The vaccine’s definitely most effective when you’re younger because you have A better immune response to vaccines and when you haven’t been exposed to the virus yet”, he said.
Routledge also said parents will need to give consent for their kids to receive the shot.
Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan says offering the HPV vaccine for free to boys is something the province is looking at. “Vaccinating boys with the HPV vaccine will help prevent transmission of the virus and help reduce the incidence and mortality of all HPV-related cancers”. Nova Scotia has announced it plans to do the same.
*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.