This fall, parents in the Battlefords will have an opportunity to vaccinate their children in Grade 6 for the human papillomavirus (HPV).
The vaccine will be available for students in the Living Sky School Division, Light of Christ Catholic School Division and the Northwest School Division in Meadow Lake. As in other regions, the vaccine is available with parental consent and is administered through public health.
In the latest budget, the province announced it would provide $750,000 per year to expand the program to include male students. The vaccine has been available to girls since 2008.
“We are really excited about that because in Saskatchewan we have one of the most comprehensive vaccination programs in Canada and the world,” Dr. Saqib Shahab, Chief Health Medical Officer with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health said in an interview provided by the province. “Having the vaccination program for boys will just make our program fully inclusive of both boys and girls for the HPV vaccine."
The health professional said the vaccine is able to prevent a number of cancers in both women and men. For men, that list includes mouth and throat cancers.
He said the best time to administer the vaccine is when youth are in Grade 6.
By including boys, Shahab added it will make the vaccination program easier to roll out. Grade 6 students are able to get four different immunization vaccines – Hepatitis B, chickenpox, Meningitis and now HPV.
“It's always with parental consent,” Shahab said, adding parents will receive a consent form either in September of October 2017 to give their child permission to receive the shot.
"We need to work with parents to ensure our children are vaccinated to the optimum, to maximize the benefit to children themselves but also to maintain community immunity," Shahab said.
He added it's an encouragement to see immunization rates improve in recent years.
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