By: Bradley Bouzane
25 October 2010
On the heels of a survey that suggests only a small fraction of at-risk Canadian women are getting vaccinated against a virus closely linked to cervical cancer, a specialist says the focus needs to remain on publicly funded school programs.
The survey, released last week by Leger Marketing, suggested that nine of 10 Canadian women between 18 and 25 had not received the three-step vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV). While this group of more than 1,000 respondents was ineligible to receive the vaccine through school-based programs across the country, Dr. Joan Murphy, a cervical cancer spokeswoman for the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada, says more girls should get the vaccination before they leave school.
“It’s a tragedy that this excellent vaccine and excellent intervention to prevent cervical cancer, that’s actually being paid for, is not being given to as many girls in those school programs as we would have hoped,” said Murphy, who is also a gynecologic oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
She said some provinces, including Quebec, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, are doing well with their school vaccination programs, but others, such as Ontario, are lagging behind.
In Ontario, Grade 8 girls are the focus of the program, but about half of the eligible students have not received the vaccination.
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