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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

CANADA: Too Many Albertans Not Taking Advantage of HPV Vaccine


Edmonton Journal (05.03.12) - Friday, May 04, 2012

Just 66 percent of eligible fifth- through ninth-grade Edmonton girls took advantage of Alberta's free human papillomavirus vaccine program in 2010-11. Edmonton has the province's highest in-school vaccination rate, followed by Calgary with 60.8 percent. The rate in central and southern Alberta was 55 percent, while the northern health zone's rate hovered at around 50 percent.

In contrast, the province posts much higher rates for other inoculations. Roughly 94 percent of ninth-graders receive the booster shot for measles, mumps, and rubella, while 84 percent are vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Chief Medical Officer Andre Corriveau said Alberta's experience is similar to that of other provinces. "There was a lot of controversy" when the Gardasil vaccine came on the market because it protects against an STD, he said. "It was quite strident and virulent, and it made a lot of people think, 'I'm not sure I want my daughter to get this vaccine,'" he said.

Some Catholic school boards, including Calgary's, do not allow school-based HPV vaccination on the grounds it could encourage sexual immorality.

"This is a very effective, very safe vaccine against a very common and aggressive form of cancer," Corriveau said of Gardasil. "It's not complete protection, but it does protect against the most virulent forms of the virus that can cause cancer." According to Corriveau, the province is considering whether to offer HPV vaccination to boys. Doing so would protect males from anal, oral, and pharyngeal cancers, as well as provide additional coverage for their female partners. The cost- benefit analysis of that plan has not yet been determined, he said.


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Information in this article was accurate in May 4, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.