A one-time human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) program is being offered to women in British Columbia who were born in 1991, 1992 and 1993 to protect them from cervical cancer.
“We’ve been offering the school-based HPV vaccination program since 2008, which has helped to protect thousands of British Columbian girls from cervical cancer,” explains Dr. Perry Kendall, provincial health officer. “I’m pleased that with this program we can expand that to ensure that all B.C. women aged 21 and under will have had an opportunity to protect themselves.”
HPV infections are the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer. It’s estimated the vaccine can prevent up to 70 per cent of these cancers, as well as a number of pre-cancerous changes to the cervix that require treatment.
It’s hoped that the vaccine will be available at the Sun Peaks Health Clinic, and a determination should be made by the end of April. However, HPV vaccine is available from pharmacists, physicians, sexual health and youth clinics, post secondary institution student health services and public health units.
B.C. began offering the HPV vaccine to grade six and nine girls in 2008. Girls born in 1994 and later have been offered the vaccine in the school based program. Until now, those born in previous years have been ineligible for the publicly funded vaccine. After studying the data on the vaccine and its cost-effectiveness, the B.C. Communicable Disease Policy Advisory Committee recommended that B.C. offer a one-time program for young women.
“The HPV vaccine is a safe and highly effective vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer,” said Dr. Monika Naus, medical director of immunization programs, BC Centre for Disease Control. “We recommended this one-time program so that we could protect more young women from cancer and provide coverage for those who missed the school program.”