Changes to Ontario’s Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunization program

Changes to Ontario’s HPV immunization program (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is HPV?

HPV, short for human papillomavirus, is a very common virus worldwide. There are many different types of HPV. Some types of HPV can cause cancer of the cervix in women, penile cancer in men and a number of other cancers in both men and women. Other types of HPV can cause skin lesions such as genital warts.

Fortunately, infections from most common types of HPV can be prevented with the HPV vaccine.

What are the changes to the HPV immunization program and how does it affect my child or children?

Currently, the HPV vaccine is offered free of charge in Ontario schools to girls in grade eight. Under the expanded program, the province will start offering the vaccine to all students in grade seven.

If you have a son or daughter entering grade seven in the 2016-17 school year, they will be offered the HPV vaccine through school-based clinics by the Halton Region Health Department.

If you have a daughter entering grade eight in the 2016-17 school year, she will also be offered the vaccine through school-based clinics. The 2016-17 school year will be the last year when girls in grade eight will be offered the HPV vaccine because in future years the vaccine will be offered only in grade seven.

How does the HPV immunization process work?

For the majority of students who are eligible for the HPV vaccine, the vaccine is given in a series of two injections, six months apart. For those who receive their first dose after the age of 14, or who are immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system), the HPV vaccine is given in a series of three injections over a six-month period.

Why does the program now include boys?

Every year in Ontario, there are 254 HPV-related deaths, 1,090 new cases of cancer and 14,666 new cases of genital warts attributable to HPV.

Ontario expanded its publicly-funded HPV immunization program to include boys to help protect more youth from HPV infection and related cancers. The immunization of boys is also recommended by expert groups, such as the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.