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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
CANADA: Parents Face Quick Vaccine Decision
Anne Kelly
September 7, 2007
The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo) (09.06.07) - Friday, September 07, 2007

Parents of grade-eight girls in the Waterloo region face a decision as to whether to allow their daughters to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV). Announced Aug. 2, the provincial school-based HPV vaccination program is voluntary, and public health nurses will be giving the shots to girls in local schools beginning Monday. The government is sending a fact sheet about the HPV vaccine program to parents prior to the clinics.

About 3,000 girls in the Waterloo region are eligible to receive the vaccination, which requires three shots over six months. In Ontario, 84,000 grade-eight girls will be able to receive the free vaccine. The program is being subsidized with $300 million (US $284 million) over three years by the federal government.

"There is a huge potential here to prevent cervical cancer" most cases of which are caused by HPV, said Dr. Liana Nolan, Waterloo region's medical officer of health. Each year, about 500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Ontario, and the disease kills about 140 women.

One researcher recently published an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal questioning whether universal vaccination is premature, safe, and effective. However, all provincial chief medical officers of health support the program, said Nolan.

The most common side effects from HPV shots have been a sore arm and feeling temporarily unwell. Ongoing monitoring of the vaccine has found it both safe and effective for more than five years without a booster, Nolan added.