Canada’s top doctor expects decision on cervical cancer vaccine by weeks

The leading doctor in the field of cervical cancer prevention and vaccination programs for young children in Toronto says she expects the agency responsible for approving and issuing vaccination for young children in Canada…

Canada's top doctor expects decision on cervical cancer vaccine by weeks

The leading doctor in the field of cervical cancer prevention and vaccination programs for young children in Toronto says she expects the agency responsible for approving and issuing vaccination for young children in Canada to do just that within weeks.

Canada’s top health official admitted in a letter posted on Twitter earlier this week that it can take months for the board that must approve childhood vaccines before them is ready to issue new approvals.

In response to the delay, the letter from Health Canada chief medical officer in the Toronto area says: “It’s not unreasonable for these decisions to take some time.”

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In total, the only adults that can receive the Cervarix vaccine in Canada are those at high risk for developing the cervical cancer that leads to the deaths of 1,100 Canadians each year.

The vaccine has been approved in Canada since 2012 and applied in most Canadian provinces by medical and pharmaceutical companies.

For large regions of Ontario, the vaccine is made available to everyone, while in the less populated areas it is available for just middle-aged women.

However, in November 2017 the Canada’s chief medical officer of health, Marie-Claude Bibeau, said that funding for the vaccine is still being finalised and distribution of the vaccine is not yet available.

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This week, the Toronto-based authority in this field of medicine, Dr Robyn Dietrich, said she is anticipating an approval decision to be made.

Dietrich heads the health advocacy group Canadian Vaccine Information Network. “Last week we completed an oral briefing with staff from [board of health] public safety division and [board of health] public health,” she said. “They are aware that the clinics of the University Health Network and private clinics in Toronto are willing to facilitate vaccine distribution in response to our demand.”

Dietrich expects the approval will come from the department of public health and vaccine, which has been involved in the review of the matter, in the next two to three weeks.

The Greater Toronto Vaccination Clinic was made aware of the endorsement of the plans by the Ontario Public Health officer of health.

Steve Strasser, founder of the clinic, said that in the event of a delay, the clinic will need to consider purchasing the vaccine from overseas, in addition to the vaccine in this case available in Canada. “It is less expensive. It is more stable and it is not going to cause more side effects than what are already in the shots.”

The Ontario Health Ministry refused to say how long a decision will take, despite having announced the evaluation in November 2017. The ministry said the decision will come “as soon as it can”.

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