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B.C. research leads to new HPV vaccination schedule

VICTORIA – Groundbreaking work by a B.C.-led research team has resulted in a new HPV vaccine schedule for girls.

The result of the research will mean girls under 15 years old will receive two doses of vaccine, rather than three.

Research studies from B.C.’s Vaccine Evaluation Centre have shown the HPV vaccine is effective and provides immunity with just two doses, given six months apart. Previously, B.C. had been administering three doses – two in Grade 6 and one in Grade 9. The Grade 9 booster has now been dropped.

The ministry and health authorities will reinvest any savings from this change into increasing HPV vaccination rates among girls, which currently stand at 69% in B.C.

“This is another example of how health-care research in B.C. is improving the quality of life for all British Columbians,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “This work done by the Vaccine Evaluation Centre aligns with our strategic priority of increasing timely access to evidence-informed care.”

The research compared the mean antibody levels of girls aged nine to 13 years who had received three doses of the HPV vaccine to the same number of girls in the same age group who received two doses. The researchers found the girls’ mean average antibody levels were fairly equal. The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in May 2013.

Out of this research, on Oct. 1, 2014, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued an update to its HPV vaccine recommendations, supporting a two-dose series of vaccine for girls under 15 years old throughout Canada. This recommendation matches previous recommendations from the World Health Organization and expert advisory committees from several other countries, which have moved to a two-dose HPV vaccine schedule.

This research does not affect the vaccine schedule for women who are 26 years old and younger and born before 1994, which will remain three doses.

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