The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) urges the federal government to enhance its national immunization strategy to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to protect themselves against the common strains of HPV (human papillomavirus) through immunization. The lack of access to HPV vaccination programs for young men in Canada is needlessly putting the health of Canadians at risk.
"Infectious diseases, such as HPV, continue to pose a significant threat to the health of Canadians," said Carlo Berardi, Chair, Canadian Pharmacists Association. "Immunization is the safest, most effective way to prevent, control and eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases. The evidence is clear: vaccination saves lives."
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in Canada. Approximately 3 out of 4 sexually active Canadians will be infected with HPV at some time in their life. HPV infections cause 5% of all cancers worldwide and 70% of all cervical cancer cases, accounting for about 400 deaths per year in Canada. In its March 2007 budget, the federal government provided $300 million to the provinces and territories in support of a national HPV vaccination program for young women.
Since the introduction of a national HPV vaccination program for girls and young women in 2008, Canada has seen a sizeable uptake in HPV vaccinations rates among young women. Other countries, including Australia, the US and Austria have extended similar programs for young men. In addition, a number of Canadian provinces (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Alberta) have also extended coverage to young men. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended in 2012 that the HPV vaccine should be provided to young men.
"The debate is over: HPV vaccinations for young men will save lives," said Perry Eisenschmid, CEO, Canadian Pharmacists Association. "In addition, the long-term savings in treatment and care of men with HPV-related diseases would considerably outweigh the extra cost of enhancing the existing national strategy."
Enhancing Canada's National Immunization Strategy will be a key issue that CPhA will be advocating for in the upcoming federal election. Pharmacists, who are increasingly providing immunization services and advice, believe action is needed to both provide enhanced access to immunizations and to further educate Canadians about the importance of immunization.
Canadian Pharmacists Association