Sudbury

Vaccinating Ontario boys for HPV will help with 'herd immunity'

More students in Sudbury will have access to the HPV vaccine in the coming school year.

Sudbury and District Health Unit will be sending consent forms to parents for the vaccine in September

The Ontario government announced that the HPV vaccine program will be available to Grade 7 boys in the coming school year. Here in Sudbury, consent forms will be sent to parents in September. (Mario Tama/Getty)

The Sudbury and District Health Unit says the HPV vaccine program will be available to Grade 7 boys in the coming school year.

The Ontario government announced changes to the HPV vaccination program last week. Currently, the vaccine — which protects against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus — is only offered to girls. The vaccine is meant to help prevent genital warts and HPV-related cancers.

A nurse with the Sudbury and District Health Unit told CBC News the change is a good thing, as the infection affects both boys and girls.

"If we immunize the boys as well as the girls, we're also contributing to something called herd immunity," Justeen Mansourian-Christakos said.

"So the more people that are vaccinated in the population, the less the disease will be circulating in the population."

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The best age at which to get vaccinated is between nine and 13, she added.

Mansourian-Christakos said the virus is not gender specific.

"[For] boys, there's an increase of HPV related cancers, specifically penile cancers and HPV related anal cancers, as well as HPV-related cancers of the head and the neck."

Alberta and Prince Edward Island already offer the vaccine free to boys.

Norm Blaseg of Sudbury's Rainbow District School Board said expanding the program is a positive step forward, even though it requires "a huge public education piece."

"I certainly see it that way and I would encourage folks to go in with an open mind and to think about [protecting their children] from a cancer-causing infection," he said.

The Sudbury and District Health Unit will be sending consent forms to parents for the vaccine in September.

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