New for the 2016-2017 school year
Ontario is expanding its publicly funded immunization program to help protect youth from Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection and related cancers. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, Ontario will offer the cancer-fighting HPV vaccine to all boys and girls in Grade 7 as part of its routine school-based HPV immunization program.
If you have a son or daughter entering Grade 7 in September 2016, they will be offered the vaccine through school-based clinics run by the local public health unit.
Why the expansion to boys
Expanding the school-based HPV immunization program to include boys aligns with current scientific and expert recommendations, including from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
HPV is a very common virus worldwide, and can lead to different kinds of cancer in females and males. The HPV vaccine can best prevent HPV-related diseases and cancers if received at a young age.
Why the move from Grade 8 to Grade 7
The HPV school-based immunization program will be shifted from Grade 8 to Grade 7. This aligns with expert recommendations to immunize girls and boys between 9 and 13 years of age when the vaccine is most effective.
The shift also brings Ontario more in line with other provinces and territories which provide the school-based HPV vaccine to children in earlier grades.
Girls who were eligible for the HPV vaccine in Grade 8 in 2015-2016, but missed their immunization, continue to be eligible for the publicly funded vaccine until the end of Grade 12. Contact your local public health unit to find out how to get them vaccinated.
Similarly, starting in 2016-2017, boys and girls who do not complete the HPV vaccine series in Grade 7 continue to be eligible to catch up missed doses until the end of Grade 12.
Boys who are in Grades 8 to 12 during the 2016-17 school year are not eligible to receive the publicly funded HPV vaccine. For non-eligible boys and girls, the vaccine can be purchased privately. Speak with your doctor or nurse practitioner for more information.
The HPV immunization schedule
For the majority of students who are eligible for the HPV vaccine, the vaccine is given in a series of two injections, six months apart.
For those who receive their first dose after the age of 14 years, or who are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system), the HPV vaccine is given in a series of three injections over a six-month period.