EDMONTON, AB, December 6, 2013 ( – Alberta’s government announced Thursday that they will expand their school-based HPV vaccination program to boys.

The vaccine has been controversial wherever it’s been introduced because it’s connected to severe side effects, including reports of deaths. Many parents are also concerned that having their child vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease would undermine their belief in abstinence before marriage.

As of next fall, grade 5 boys will be offered the vaccine, and grade 9 boys will be offered a four-year catch-up program. The province expects 32,000 grade 5 boys and 15,500 grade 9 boys to take the vaccine.


They say the vaccine is voluntary and only given with the consent of a parent or guardian.

Alberta began funding the vaccine for girls in 2008. It becomes the second province in Canada to fund it for boys after Prince Edward Island announced it would begin doing so in the spring.

The vaccine is administered to girls because the human papillomavirus causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. However, the vast majority of those with HPV will not contract cervical cancer.

After widespread acceptance of the vaccine for girls, its proponents began calling for it to be administered to boys as well. While HPV poses less risk to boys, health officials argue that vaccinating boys protects girls from contracting the virus.

Matthew Grant, press secretary for Alberta Health, told the province estimates the cost of offering the HPV vaccine to boys in grade 5 will be $4 million a year, in addition to $4 million a year for girls. They estimate the grade 9 catch-up program will cost $3 million over the next four years.

Health Minister Fred Horne argues the program will ultimately save the province money by reducing health care costs.

With PEI and Alberta launching the program for boys this year, it appears the notion may catch on nationwide.

A health official in Ontario told Blackburn News on Friday that she expects the program is coming to Canada’s largest province.

“We are increasingly getting an increasing number of parents bringing their male children into our immunization clinic for HPV vaccine,” said Marlene Price, manager of Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the Middlesex London Health Unit.

The vaccine’s proponents often claim that its side effects are restricted to brief pain at the injection site. But many experts have significant concerns.

Earlier this year, Japan announced they were no longer recommending the vaccine. They said they had to conduct further investigation after reports of 2,000 adverse events, including 106 “serious cases of pains or body convulsions, pains in joints, or difficulty in walking.”

In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration received reports of 28 deaths associated with the HPV vaccine. Among the 6,723 adverse reactions reported that year, 142 were deemed life threatening and 1,061 were considered serious.

In August, the British Medical Journal published an article with strong evidence showing that a 16 year-old Australian girl was made infertile due to the vaccine.