Health

HPV vaccine joins publicly funded school immunization program (08/09/05)

NB 1266

Sept. 5, 2008

FREDERICTON (CNB) - The vaccine that helps protect girls from contracting cervical cancer is now available through the publicly funded school immunization program.

The HPV immunization program is a key component of a comprehensive strategy to reduce cervical cancer and is one of the initiatives promised in Transforming New Brunswick's Health-Care System, the provincial health plan, 2008-12.

The HPV vaccine has been shown to prevent strains of human papillomavirus responsible for 70 per cent of all cervical cancer cases in Canada.

The HPV vaccine joins the list of vaccines delivered by public health nurses in the province's public schools. The school immunization program for 2008-09 will include: a HPV vaccine for girls in grades 7 and 8 for this year (and Grade 7 only in following years); a combined tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine for grades 6 and 9 students; a meningococcal ACYW vaccine for Grade 9 students; and a combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine for Grade 12 students.

The estimated cost for school-based immunizations in 2008-09 is $5 million, which includes the vaccine and delivery costs.

Parents/guardians are reminded to be on the alert for information on these vaccines that will be coming home with students.

The HPV vaccine has been approved by Health Canada for use in females age nine to 26. HPV is spread through sexual activity and is the most common sexually transmitted infection. It affects women and men of all ages. Persistent infections with high-risk types of HPV may lead to cervical cancer.

Public health experts recommend vaccinating girls between the ages of nine and 13 as the vaccine is most effective when given before the onset of sexual activity. It is still recommended to get the vaccine even if girls have become sexually active.

A provincial cervical cancer screening program will also be developed and implemented along with the immunization program.

For more information on HPV Immunization Program visit the Department of Health's website at http://www.gnb.ca/0053/hpv/index-e.asp or contact the regional public health office.

For information on the New Brunswick School Immunization Program visit: http://www.gnb.ca/0053/disprev/Immunization-e.asp.

08/09/05

MEDIA CONTACT: Johanne Le Blanc, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3513.

08/09/05