One-time HPV vaccine now available for BC women aged 19 to 21

A one-time HPV vaccine program will now be available for British Columbian women who were born in 1991, 1992 and 1993. The vaccine protects against cervical cancer, as HPV infections are almost always the cause of the disease.

“We have been offering the school-based HPV vaccination program since 2008, which has helped to protect thousands of girls from cervical cancer,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall, according to the Provincial Health Services Authority.

“With this program, we can expand that to ensure that all young British Columbian women aged 21 and under will have had an opportunity to protect themselves.”

The school-based program has offered the vaccine to girls born in 1994 and later, while girls born in previous years have had no access to the publicly funded vaccine. But since studying data on the vaccine, as well as its costs, the BC Communicable Disease Policy Advisory Committee recommended the implementation of a one-time program for young women who missed the school-based one.

Estimates say that the vaccine not only helps counter cervical cancer, but a number of pre-cancerous changes to the cervix, which require treatment also.

Keeping this in mind, as well as the daunting number of BC women at risk against cervical cancer—the number of women who are sexually active—the approximate $3.5 million spent on the new vaccine program is money well spent.

The HPV vaccine will be provided in a series of three doses over a period of six months. Women should visit their physicians, pharmacists, youth and sexual health clinics, post-secondary institution student health services or other public health units to receive it.

“The vaccine is safe and highly effective for the prevention of cervical cancer,” said Dr. Monika Naus, medical director at the BC Centre for Disease Control. All eligible BC women should make the most out of this opportunity to protect themselves.

Women who are interested in the vaccine but do not fall into the eligible age range can still consult with their pharmacist or physician about purchasing it.

Visit Immunize BC or HealthLink BC for more information.

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