Toronto HPV vaccine rate trails provincial average

23 September 2016

TORONTO -

The Canadian Cancer Society and Toronto Public Health are reminding parents to get their sons and daughters vaccinated for the HPV virus as school-based vaccination clinics launch across the city and province.

HPV infection causes almost all cases of cervical cancer and has been linked to several other cancers such as oral and oropharyngeal, so getting children vaccinated through the Ontario school-based program is very important.

In April, Ontario became the 6th province in Canada to provide equal access to a vaccine that can prevent cancer for both boys and girls, so this fall marks the first time boys will be able to participate in the vaccination clinics.  

"Toronto Public Health is a strong supporter of the HPV vaccination program as it provides important health benefits and helps to reduce the spread of HPV infections," says Dr. Herveen Sachdeva, Acting Director, Communicable Disease Control and Associate Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health. "Including boys is a key step in the prevention of HPV transmission and in reducing the health burden from genital warts and HPV-associated cancers."

Across Canada, HPV vaccination rates in the public program vary widely, ranging from a low of 40% in the Northwest Territories to a high of 91% in Newfoundland.

In Ontario, about 80% of girls eligible for the HPV vaccination program are getting vaccinated. In Toronto, the HPV coverage rate for grade 8 girls in the 2015-16 school year was 66% (about 8,000 out of 12,000 grade 8 girls).

“The HPV vaccine can prevent cancer,” says Joanne Di Nardo, Senior Manager, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario. “We urge parents to get their sons and daughters vaccinated.”

Councillor Joe Mihevc experienced the devastating effects of HPV throat cancer when his brother John died from the disease nearly 2 years ago. “Knowing there is a vaccine to minimize your risk of getting an HPV-related cancer, it’s a no-brainer,” says Mihevc. “When John was diagnosed, his daughters were eligible for the HPV vaccine and were immediately vaccinated. We wanted to do everything we could to prevent them from getting cancer.”

Australia was among the first countries to introduce a national HPV vaccination program for girls in 2007 and is already seeing a drop in cervical pre-cancers as more girls are vaccinated.

To learn more about cancer, HPV and the HPV vaccine, speak to one of our cancer information specialists at 1 888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca/HPVvaccine

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For further information, contact: 

Lenore Bromley, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974 

Susan Fekete, Canadian Cancer Society, 613-565-2522 ext 4985