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HPV Vaccine in Ontario

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is a strong weapon in cancer prevention as it protects both females and males against HPV infections that can lead to almost all cases of cervical cancer, as well as a number of other cancers such as anal, penile, vaginal and vulvar, oral cavity and oropharyngeal. Current evidence tells us that the HPV vaccines are safe and most of the side effects that occur are not serious. The safety is being followed in Canada and other countries on an ongoing basis.

In Ontario, the current school-based HPV vaccination program has recently been changed and now includes boys and girls beginning in Grade 7. The Canadian Cancer Society was a strong voice for equal access to the vaccine and advocated on this issue for several years.

  • HPV related cancer survivor - Tiffany Bond

    Meet Tiffany Bond. A mother and cancer survivor whose type of throat cancer is related to HPV and may have been prevented by the vaccine. Tiffany was diagnosed at the age of 39.

    "I wish the vaccine had been available when I was younger," says Bond. "Having gone through what I went through, I cannot understand why parents would choose not to have their children vaccinated against HPV."

    It is the Canadian Cancer Society's priority to build awareness of the link between HPV and cancer, while increasing the uptake of the HPV vaccine among girls and boys in Ontario through the school-based vaccination program.

    In order to be vaccinated, parents or guardians must complete a consent form that is sent home and return it to their child's school. All doses must be completed for the best protection.

  • Educational resources
  • Is the HPV vaccine safe?

    HPV vaccines are approved for use in over 100 countries, with more than 100 million doses distributed worldwide. Extensive clinical trial and post-marketing safety surveillance data indicate that the vaccines are safe and well tolerated and have side effects similar to other vaccines.

  • Is the HPV vaccine effective?

    The HPV vaccine provides almost 100% protection from HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 if all the appropriate doses are received at the correct intervals, and if it is given before you have an infection with these types.

  • Boys now included in Ontario school-based program

    The Society was a strong advocate for the inclusion of boys in the Ontario school-based human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program. Together with staff, volunteers and supporters, we celebrated the announcement that boys and girls will have equal access to the vaccine starting in September 2016.

    Ontarians should have equitable access to cancer treatment and care. Since 2010, all provinces and territories have offered publicly funded HPV vaccination to girls. Although the programs differ across the country in terms of target age group, they all offer the vaccine free through school-based immunization clinics.

    6 provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, PEI and Quebec) also include boys in their school-based vaccination programs. The Society is calling on all provinces and territories to expand their programs to include boys.

    BC offers free HPV vaccination to certain populations of males at high risk of HPV, but does not offer a comprehensive school-based program for boys. Quebec is the only province that offers both a school-based program for boys and girls along with a separate program for men who have sex with men.

  • How many doses of the vaccine are necessary?

    Research now shows that Gardasil and Cervarix are effective when given as 2 doses, 6-12 months apart. The 2-dose recommendation was made for girls aged 9-14 years who are not immunocompromised. As a result, some provinces are now administering the vaccine over 2 doses (Ex. Ontario).

  • Why does my child need to be vaccinated so young?

    Since this is a cancer prevention vaccine, it is most effective when it is given to young teens rather than older teens because that’s when the body’s immune system is most responsive to the vaccine. There is no benefit to waiting.

    For HPV vaccines to be most effective, they should be given prior to exposure to HPV. The HPV vaccine also produces a higher immune response in preteens than it does in older teens and young adults.

  • Can older people be vaccinated?

    Yes. The HPV vaccines are approved for use in girls and women aged 9 to 45 and in boys in men aged 9 to 26. Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends the vaccines for all males and females 9 and older, with no upper age limit.
    Publicly funded vaccines are only available through school-based programs or certain programs for high-risk individuals. However, others may pay for it. Many private health insurance programs offer coverage for the HPV vaccine. If you or your child is not eligible for HPV vaccination under an immunization program, you can speak with your healthcare provider if you wish to buy the vaccine. It may cost around $150 per dose. Many private health insurance programs include coverage for HPV vaccination.

  • What is the uptake of the HPV vaccine?

    While the vaccine is widely available, not enough Canadian children are being vaccinated. Coverage rates in the school programs for girls range from 43% to 91% across the country, and only 2 provinces have coverage rates over 80%. The Society urges schools and health professionals to promote the vaccine as a safe and effective cancer-prevention strategy, and urges parents to sign the vaccination permission forms that their children bring home from school.



Marj and Chloe Poirier If it were not for the Society, I’m not sure how we could have managed.

Read Chloe's story

Great progress has been made

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Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.

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