VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If you’re wondering if HPV immunizations are having an impact around here, the province is pointing to some new numbers.
A new study suggests cervical pre-cancer rates have dropped by over half within 12 years of the province’s HPV vaccination program.
“We can save lives through a simple immunization program, and we will,” Health Minister Adrian Dix says. “I acknowledge the hard work done by researchers, educators and the health authorities to ensure the success of the program. The dramatic success – pre-cancer rates dropping by over half — shows us the importance of having children immunized early to protect their lives.”
New study shows #BC’s school-based #HPV #immunization program cuts pre-cancer rates by more than half. Thx to researchers, educators & the health authorities for their hard work to ensure success of the program! @BCCancer_Agency @PHSAofBC @UBC @Rob_Fleming https://t.co/b48x9cXXpc
— Adrian Dix (@adriandix) October 16, 2019
Currently, the HPV vaccine is available to both girls and boys in Grade 6. The virus is easily spread through sexual contact, and is common in both men and women, the province notes.
While most infections can clear up on their own, some can cause lesions that may develop into cancer if left untreated.
“This study reinforces the tremendous importance of school-based immunization programs in our province,” Minister of Education Rob Fleming adds. “The decline we are seeing in HPV-related cancer rates highlights how strong partnerships between school districts and health authorities can significantly improve the well-being of B.C. students.”
The province implemented a voluntary HPV immunization program in 2008. The women who first received the vaccinations were entered into the Cervix Screening Program 11 years later.
The B.C. government says it’s from this program, as well as immunization registries, that researchers were able to compare women who had been vaccinated to those who had not.
The HPV vaccine protects against cervical, anal, and some rare penile cancers. The vaccine available through school-based programs now protects against several different types of HPV, which cause “about 90 per cent of cervical cancers,” the province says.