Canadian Press (02.07.12) - Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The Federation of Medical Women of Canada is urging provincial
governments to provide funding to vaccinate boys against human
papillomavirus in school-based programs. Vaccinating girls
alone is not equitable and does not use the vaccine to its
full potential, FMWC said.
"Both sexes contribute to the transmission of HPV," said Dr.
Vivien Brown, FMWC's Toronto branch president. "Both sexes are
at risk of developing a variety of HPV-related diseases,
including cancer. So it follows that both sexes should be
protected. But currently, that's not the case."
In January, Canada's National Advisory Committee on
Immunization recommended the HPV vaccine Gardasil for boys.
Though it represents an important first step toward adding the
vaccine to the schedule of those that are publicly funded, the
recommendation does not guarantee that provinces and
territories will pick up the tab.
"There's a long process that is required to go from what I
would call concept to community," said Dr. Arlene King,
Ontario's chief medical officer of health. That process
includes a cost-effectiveness analysis and practical
considerations - such as whether the system can handle the
additional work, how program objectives can be assessed, and
the public's receptiveness - she said.
In addition, the decision is part of a wider discussion about
new vaccines on the market or in the pipeline, noted Dr. Perry
Kendall, British Columbia's provincial health officer. With
public funds tight, vaccines will compete for priority. For
instance, governments might decide they would rather pay for
adults to be vaccinated against shingles.
An ongoing review of Ontario's program for girls may help the
province determine whether to cover boys, King said. According
to 2009-10 data, only 55 percent of Grade 8 girls in Ontario
had received the free shots.