Nova Scotia

HPV vaccine may be offered to boys in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s health minister is considering offering the HPV vaccine to boys.

MLA stricken with HPV-related cancer wants to protect others

Gordie Gosse says it's his 'mission' to bring the HPV vaccine to boys. (CBC)

Nova Scotia’s health minister is considering offering the HPV vaccine to boys.

Leo Glavine says the illness of fellow MLA Gordie Gosse prompted him to consider whether a program to provide free HPV vaccines for girls should be expanded to include boys.

The province has offered the free vaccine to girls since 2007.

Gosse, an NDP MLA and former speaker of the legislature, returned to the legislature Thursday after undergoing surgery for throat cancer. Doctors told him it was caused by the human papillomavirus.

Glavine open to talks

Gosse, who represents the riding of Sydney-Whitney Pier, says it's now his "mission" to ensure young boys get vaccinated against HPV.

"Make it optional for boys. Make sure boys can have the same vaccination. It's a no-brainer, " Gosse told CBC News Friday.

Doctors used part of Gosse's wrist to rebuild his soft palate and took skin from his leg to replace that taken from his wrist. He's lost a lot of weight, in part because right now he can only eat soft foods.

Gosse said he wants to meet with the health minister to discuss the matter.

Glavine says he and Gosse have become friends over the years, so he's been very concerned about his colleague.

"It brings a concern that I haven't had put before me before since becoming a minister that I now must address. It's the first time I'm encountering a person who has had it established that his cancer was caused by the human papillomavirus,” Glavine said.

77 per cent of girls vacinnated 

Glavine said he doesn't have the information he needs right now to make a decision, but "we'll now take a look at if this is a program we should have available."

The Department of Health and Wellness says in the 2012-13 school year, 77 per cent of grade 7 girls received the vaccine. It says the annual cost is $693,000.

P.E.I. and Alberta provide the vaccine to boys and girls.

In 2012, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended extending the HPV vaccine to boys and men aged nine to 26 “for the prevention of anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) grades 1, 2, and 3, anal cancer, and anogenital warts.” 

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