Grade 6 boys to start receiving HPV vaccinations in Sask.

Saskatchewan has expanded its HPV program to include Grade 6 boys. .
Saskatchewan has expanded its HPV program to include Grade 6 boys. . AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File

Grade 6 boys in Saskatchewan will be offered HPV vaccinations in the fall.

It was announced with the provincial budget this week that $750, 000 has been set aside to expand the human papillomavirus vaccination program (HPV) to include boys.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Budget 2017: sales tax increasing to deal with $685M deficit

Donna Pasiechnik, the Canadian Cancer Society’s media and government relations manager, says this change is a step in the right direction and it will not only prevent cancer in boys and men but also save health-care dollars in the long run.

“We have been advocating for a few years that boys be vaccinated against human papillomavirus. Girls have been vaccinated here in Saskatchewan since 2008, protecting them from cancers. Now our boys will be protected,” Pasiechnik said.

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This is the first program of its kind in Saskatchewan, but there are eight other provinces in Canada that vaccinate boys for HPV.

According to last year’s Canadian Cancer Society’s statistics, there was a 56 per cent increase in HPV-related throat and mouth cancers among men in a 20-year period. Those statistics also show that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in Canada: 75 per cent of people will have it at some point in their life.

Pasiechnik says “the fact that the government has acknowledged the importance of vaccinating boys against HPV will help us educate other parents, whose boys are perhaps older, to vaccinate their boys, to protect them from these cancers.”