Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine and Its Role in Cancer Prevention

This article was published in the May 2024 edition of Biz X magazine, available online

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that can infect both males and females. HPV is spread from person to person during intimate contact. There are many types of HPV, some of which can cause genital warts and cancer. Cancers caused by HPV are largely preventable.

HPV vaccine is highly effective in preventing HPV-related cancers and works best when given before a person is exposed to the virus. The HPV (Gardasil®) vaccine is part of Ontario’s routine immunization schedule and protects against nine types of HPV that can cause head and neck cancers, genital cancers, and warts. The HPV vaccine is given as two shots, free of charge for students 9 to 14 years of age and three shots for students who receive their first shot on or after their 15th birthday. Each year, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit offers the HPV vaccine, along with Meningococcal and Hepatitis B vaccines, to all Grade 7 students in Windsor and Essex County schools. Students are able to receive these vaccines for free until the end of Grade 12. 

Options for Students who Missed their School-Based Immunizations

Catch up immunization clinics are being planned later this school year for students that may have missed getting these vaccines at a school-based immunization clinic. Families can visit for more information, or they can contact their primary health care provider to receive these vaccines. 

The Ontario government covers the cost of HPV vaccination up to the age of 26 for many groups. For people who do not meet these criteria, the vaccine can be purchased with a prescription. The HPV vaccine currently used in Ontario is approximately $645 for a complete series of three doses and the cost may be covered through some private insurance plans.

Preparing for Future School-Based Immunization Clinics

This spring, parents and guardians can provide consent for their Grade 7 child to receive the three vaccines offered at school-based clinics planned for the 2024-2025 school year. Information about these diseases and the online consent process will be shared with families. Please read the information carefully and contact the health unit or your child’s health care provider with questions. 

For more information about HPV and school-based immunization clinics, visit or call 519-258-2146, ext. 1222.