Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Program

Description

The human papillomavirus (HPV) This link opens a new window. vaccination program aims to prevent cancers caused by HPV, including cancers of the:

  • Cervix
  • Vagina
  • Vulva
  • Penis
  • Anus
  • Mouth and throat

The program also aims to prevent genital warts caused by HPV.

HPV infections in Québec

In women

A Pap test is a sampling of cervical cells taken during a gynecological exam. This test can reveal abnormalities associated with HPV.

Around 53,000 women each year have to see a specialist for follow-up procedures after receiving Pap test results indicating abnormalities.

Moreover, every year in Québec, an average of 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly a quarter of them die as a result.

However, Pap tests are not entirely reliable. They detect abnormalities associated with HPV only half the time. Also, not all women regularly get the recommended screenings, such as a Pap test. In fact, an even greater number of women are affected by HPV-associated infections and their consequences.

Additional exams following abnormal Pap test results can be unpleasant and stressful and require several visits. Some procedures, like biopsy or colposcopy, can even be painful. Other procedures, like the removal of part of the uterus, can also have an impact on fertility.

In men

Just like women, men are also at risk of HPV infections. The risk of being infected by the same HPV, however, may be higher in men because they develop fewer antibodies than women after being infected by one or more HPVs.

Unlike men who have sex with women, men who have sex with men:

  • Are more at risk of having genital warts (they have them2 to 3 times more often than heterosexual men)
  • Are at higher risk of having an HPV-associated cancer, cancer of the anus in particular

Men who have sex with men don’t normally benefit from the indirect protection provided by the vaccination of women. Indeed, vaccinated women are protected against HPVs included in the vaccine and cannot pass them on to their sexual partners, hence protecting them indirectly.

Average number of cases per year of the diseases caused by HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18 (included in the vaccine) in Québec between 2004 and 2007
Diseases caused by HPV
Average number of cases in women Average number of cases in men

Cancers of the anus, penis, vulva, vagina and cervix

289
(vulva, vagina, cervix and anus)

29
(penis and anus)

Cancers of the mouth and throat

58

172

Warts

14,000

14,000

Benefits of HPV vaccination

Vaccination has proven itself by reducing, even eradicating certain serious diseases. The case of the HPV vaccine is no exception.

  • The HPV vaccine prevents, in particular, precancerous cervical lesions as well as anal and genital warts (condyloma). This protection has been confirmed in countries where vaccination has been implemented for several years, such as Australia.
  • In men who are not infected at the time of vaccination by one or more HPVs, the vaccination is:
    • 90% effective in preventing anogenital warts
    • 79% effective in preventing precancerous and cancerous lesions on the genital organs and in the anus, mouth and throat.

However, the vaccine is less effective in men already infected at the moment of vaccination. HPV infection generally occurs during the early years of sexual activity. Ideally, men should therefore get vaccinated before having their first sexual relationships or shortly thereafter.

  • Recent data indicates that the vaccine may even be effective in preventing the reappearance of anal lesions in men already infected by one of the HPVs included in the vaccine.

The vaccine against HPV infections is safe and most symptoms experienced after vaccination are mild and of short duration.

Eligibility

Since 2008 in Québec, vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) is recommended for girls, since it is recognized as an effective and safe means of preventing cervical cancer.

However, these viruses cause several other health issues that affect men as well as women. In 2016, the program has therefore been expanded in order to extend protection against the consequences of these infections to a larger number of people.

Children in Grade 4

The vaccine against HPV infections is included in The Québec Immunisation Program’s immunisation schedule. The vaccine is offered for free to girls, and starting September 1, 2016, to boys in Grade 4. The vaccine is given in Grade 4 for several reasons:

  • The immune system responds best to the vaccine between ages 9 and 11, which corresponds to Grade 4.
  • The vaccine is most effective when the recipient is not already infected. Given that the infection usually occurs during the first years of sexual activity, ideally, young people should receive the vaccine before their first sexual relationships.
  • A program for the hepatitis B vaccine is already provided for Grade 4 students. Giving these 2 vaccines at the same time spares parents the effort of having to go get their child vaccinated several times.
  • Two doses of the vaccine are enough for young people in Grade 4, whereas 3 doses are necessary after the age of 18.
  • The vaccine is given to girls and boys in order to fairly provide direct protection to all young people.

Other clientele

Under the Québec Immunisation Program, the following people can also be vaccinated against HPV infections free of charge:

  • Girls aged 9 to 17
  • People aged 26 or under who:
  • Since January 1, 2016, men aged 26 or under who have or plan to have sex with men

Cost

The HPV vaccine (Gardasil or Gardasil 9) is given free of charge to eligible individuals.

Other people must pay to receive the vaccine. As fees may vary, contact the place you wish to receive your vaccine at (CLSC, clinic or pharmacy) to inquire about the costs.

Reimbursements are not available under the HPV vaccination program.

Procedure

Procedures for getting vaccinated vary by region.

To find out how to proceed and where to go get vaccinated, contact your CLSC or doctor. To find contact information, go to Finding a CLSC. You can also call Info-Santé 811 to ask about the closest place from you to get vaccinated.

Grade 4 students can receive their vaccine at school from a CLSC nurse. Parents do not have to take any action and the school provides all the necessary information.

Last update: September 22, 2016 2:21 PM

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