Access to HPV immunization across Canada
Publicly funded, school-based HPV immunization programs are the primary method for vaccine delivery. These programs provide an effective means to reach young people and are in place in all provinces and territories . Programs were implemented in 2007 for girls, and by 2017 had been extended to boys.
School-based immunization schedules for the HPV vaccine are administered starting in grades 4 to 7. The HPV vaccine is most effective when it is given during the pre-adolescent years, prior to exposure to HPV.1
School-based HPV immunization programs for girls and boys
|Jurisdiction||Immunization program for girls: Date of implementation||Immunization program for boys: Date of implementation||School grade when immunization is given|
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends different approaches to immunization, including different dose schedules, based on the characteristics of the target population (e.g., gender, age, immunocompromised status).
NACI recommendations for the HPV immunization schedule
|Recommended groups||Recommended immunization schedule|
|Healthy (immunocompetent, non-HIV infected) Females 9-14 years of age (and healthy females ≥15 years of age in whom the first dose was administered between 9-14 years of age)||2- or 3-dose schedule|
|Healthy (immunocompetent, non-HIV infected) Females ≥15 years of age||3-dose schedule|
|Healthy (immunocompetent, non-HIV infected) Males 9-14 years of age (and healthy males ≥15 years of age in whom the first dose was administered between 9-14 years of age)||2- or 3-dose schedule|
|Healthy (immunocompetent, non-HIV infected) Males ≥15 years of age||3-dose schedule|
|Immunocompromised individuals and immunocompetent HIV-infected individuals||3-dose schedule|
Catch-up HPV immunization programs
- Catch-up programs offer an opportunity for immunization to those who did not receive vaccination through school-based programs or were in school prior to immunization programs being offered.
- Although HPV vaccination is recommended for adolescents before sexual activity begins, research has shown that the vaccination of young women in catch-up programs is effective for improving herd immunity and reducing risk of invasive cervical cancer.2
- These catch-up vaccinations are publicly funded under the provincial/territorial health plan, but eligibility varies based on age or gender.
Provincial and territorial HPV immunization catch-up programs
|NU||All individuals between the ages of 9-18|
|NT||All individuals between the ages of 9-26|
|YT||All individuals between the ages of 9-26|
|BC||All individuals between the ages of 9-26, if the vaccine series was started before age 19 and completed before age 26|
|AB||All individuals between the ages of 9-26|
|SK||Females born since January 1, 1996 and males born since January 1, 2006 until 27 years old.|
|MB||Females born on or after January 1, 1997 and Males born on or after January 1, 2002|
|ON||All individuals who failed to begin or complete the vaccine series in grade 7, before end of grade 12.|
|QC||Females between the ages of 9-17. Males in secondary 3, when their immunization status is updated.|
|NB||Females born in or after 1995 and males born in or after 2005.|
|NS||All individuals who failed to complete the vaccine series in grade 7 up to and including age 18.|
|PE||All individuals who failed to complete the vaccine series in grade 6 since 2007.|
|NL||Females up to age 26.|
In addition to catch-up programs for children who have not completed the HPV vaccine series under the school-based immunization programs, four provinces (BC, ON, QC, and MB) have extended the eligibility criteria for the HPV vaccine to high-risk groups.
These catch-up vaccinations for high risk groups are publicly funded under the provincial/territorial heath plan, but eligibility varies.
For individuals who did not receive the vaccination through a school-based program or do not meet the eligibility criteria to receive the vaccine free of charge as part of a catch-up program, many provinces and territories allow the vaccine to be privately purchased.
1 - Bird Y, Obidiya O, Mahmood R, Nwankwo C, Moraros J. Human papillomavirus vaccination uptake in Canada: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Prev Med. 2017;8:71.
2 - Drolet M, Laprise J, Brotherton J, Donovan B, Fairley C, Ali H et al. The Impact of Human Papillomavirus Catch-Up Vaccination in Australia: Implications for Introduction of Multiple Age Cohort Vaccination and Post Vaccination Data Interpretation. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2017;216(10):1205-1209.