HPV vaccine for boys needed, says Grand Bay-Westfield mother
New Brunswick only Maritime province that doesn't offer vaccine for males
A single mother from Grand Bay - Westfield plans to pay $600 for each of her three sons to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus.
The virus is linked to the development of various cancers in both men and women.
Brittany Merrifield's 10-year-old daughter will be innoculated with the HPV vaccine at school in Grade 7. The vaccination is not covered in New Brunswick for boys.
HPV vaccines are provided for adolescent girls across the country, but only British Columbia, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia cover the cost of vaccinating all children.
Merrifield says New Brunswick's decision not to offer the vaccine to boys is short-sighted.
"We've seen how well that worked with the measles outbreaks recently. That's also assuming all my boys will be heterosexual which will not necessarily be the case."
Merrifield admits the risks of HPV for her sons weren't on her radar until a family member fell ill with HPV-related throat cancer.
The office of the chief medical officer of health acknowledges the HPV risk for boys. A representative said the vaccines on offer in the province are constantly under review, but that cost is a factor in introducing new vaccines.
Merrifield's oldest son will be given the first of three injections for the vaccine in the next few months, but the younger two will have to wait.
"My 12-year-old will be done next year maybe in the spring when I can save up enough money, and Lucas, my seven-year has a couple of years until he has to have it done so I have some more time to save up."