Protect Yourself Against Various Cancers with the HPV Vaccine


​A message from Dr. Unjali Malhotra, FNHA Office of the Chief Medical Officer

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases, however the long-term consequences of infection can be quite severe. HPV is known to be the main cause of cervical cancer and a major cause of several other cancers.

For that reason, physicians strongly recommend that people get the HPV vaccine, which protects against HPV infection and the cancers it causes. This vaccine is safe, provides the vaccinated person protection from HPV, and prevents passing on HPV to any sexual partners.

Women often get pap smears to screen for various cancers and catch them early before they become difficult to treat or untreatable altogether. The HPV vaccine prevents those cancers from ever developing in the first place.

Important Note: First Nations women, due to experiences with anti-Indigenous racism within the health care system, have often put off or even declined screening, which has resulted in their cancers being discovered later than they could’ve been – and sometimes, too late. I urge you not to put off screening for this reason, and to report to us if you experience racism when you access health services in BC at 1-844-935-1044 or email Meanwhile, please be assured that the FNHA is working hard to transform the health care system in BC so First Nations people can have the health care they deserve, free of racism.

What is HPV?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus that is easily spread through intimate touching and sexual activity. HPV infection is the cause of:

  • Almost all cases of cervical cancers
  • About 80-90% of anal cancers
  • 40% of vaginal and vulvar cancers
  • 40-50% of penile cancers
  • 25-35% of mouth and throat cancers
  • Over 90% of genital warts

Why get the HPV Vaccine?

Certain types of HPV infections can cause cancer, but getting the HPV vaccine as a preteen or adult can help prevent these cancers from developing. The HPV vaccine helps prepare the body to fight off a HPV infection if the body is later exposed to this virus. It is one of the best ways to help prevent cervical cancer and other cancers of the anus, throat, mouth, penis, vagina, and vulva.

Who can get the HPV Vaccine?

The vaccine is available and recommended to all children aged 11 to 12 (to build immune protection early), and to eligible adults. To learn more about vaccine coverage, you can call First Nations Health Benefits at 1-855-550-5454.

HPV vaccines are given as two or three doses over a six-month time period. The HPV vaccine is well-studied and safe; it has been in use since 2006.

The HPV vaccination is free for:

  • All children in Grade 6 (ages 11-12)
  • Youth/adults born in 2006 or later who missed their Grade 6 vaccination
  • HIV-positive people 9-26 years of age
  • Transgender or two-spirit people 9-26 years of age
  • Boys/men 9-26 years of age who have sex with other boys/men

The HPV vaccine is helpful for all people. To learn more, visit:

The importance of cancer screening


On Feb. 8, the FNHA and BC Cancer launched a new cancer screening campaign aimed at creating awareness about BC Cancer's screening services for breast, cervical, colon and lung cancer, and focuses on who is eligible for these screening services and how to access them. For more information visit

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