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HPV vaccine

HPV vaccine


What you need to know about HPV vaccine

As part of the NHS immunisation programme, girls and boys aged 12 to 13 years (born after September 1, 2006) are provided with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

The HPV vaccine can help prevent malignancies caused by HPV, such as:

  • Cancer of the cervix
  • Certain malignancies of the mouth and throat (head and neck)
  • Malignancies of the anal and vaginal areas, to name a few

It also aids in the prevention of genital warts.

In England, when girls and boys aged 12 to 13 are in Year 8, they are usually provided with the first HPV vaccination. The second dose is given six to twenty-four months after the first.

To be fully protected, you must get both doses of the vaccination.

If you’re eligible and didn’t get the HPV vaccine in Year 8, it’s available on the NHS for free until your 25th birthday for:

  • Females who were born after September 1, 1991
  • After September 1, 2006, boys were born.

What is HPV?

HPV is the designation given to a group of viruses that are quite common.

There are many different forms of HPV, some of which are considered “high risk” because they’ve been related to diseases like cervical cancer, anal cancer, genital cancers, and head and neck cancers.

Other types can create warts or verrucas, among other things.

More than 99% of cervical malignancies have high-risk HPV strains.

There is also a link between HPV and various anal and genital malignancies, as well as cancers of the head and neck.

HPV infections rarely create symptoms, and most people are unaware they are afflicted.

HPV Types

There are about 100 varieties of HPV, with about 40 of them affecting the vaginal area.

HPV is a relatively prevalent virus that can be spread through sexual contact with someone who already has it.

The majority of people will contract HPV at some point in their life, and their bodies will naturally eliminate it without therapy.

However, some people who have been infected with a high-risk strain of HPV will not be able to get rid of it.

This can lead to aberrant tissue growth and other changes over time, which, if left untreated, can lead to cancer.

High-risk HPV strains have been related to a variety of cancers, including:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulval cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • Cancer of the penis
  • Some cancers of the head and neck

Other types of HPV infection can lead to:

  • The most prevalent viral sexually transmitted illness (STI) in the UK is genital warts, which are tiny growths or skin abnormalities on or around the genital or anal area.
  • Warts and verrucas on the skin, but not on the genital area
  • Warts on the vocal cords or on the voice box (laryngeal papillomas)


Since 2012, Gardasil has been the HPV vaccine used in the NHS vaccination programme.

During the academic year 2021-2022, the HPV vaccine used in the NHS programme will be replaced with Gardasil 9.

Gardasil 9 is an HPV vaccine that protects against nine different kinds of HPV: 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. Types 16 and 18 are responsible for the majority of cervical malignancies in the United Kingdom (more than 80%). Cervical cancers caused by types 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 account for 15% of all cervical malignancies.

Most anal cancers, as well as some genital and head and neck cancers, are caused by these kinds of HPV.

Gardasil 9 protects girls and boys against both cancer and genital warts, as HPV types 6 and 11 are responsible for 90% of genital warts.

HPV vaccination does not protect against other viruses spread during sex, such as chlamydia, nor does it prevent girls from becoming pregnant, thus safe sex is still essential.


In England, there is two human papillomaviruses (HPV) immunisation programmes.

One is for youngsters aged 12 to 13, while the other is for gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) between the ages of 12 and 45.

The universal HPV vaccination programme

All boys and girls aged 12 to 13 years (born after September 1, 2006) in England are routinely provided with the first HPV vaccination when they enter Year 8 at school. The second dose is given six to twenty-four months after the first.

If you’re eligible and didn’t get the HPV vaccine in Year 8, it’s available on the NHS for free until your 25th birthday for:

females who were born after September 1, 1991

After September 1, 2006, boys were born.

Contact your school’s immunisation team or your doctor’s office.

The vaccine is effective in preventing cancer from high-risk HPV varieties, such as most cervical cancers and some anal, vaginal, mouth, and throat (head and neck) cancers.

To be properly protected, you must have both dosages.

Who should not be vaccinated?

The HPV vaccine is not recommended for those who:

  • A previous dosage of the HPV vaccine or any of its constituents caused a severe adverse reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • Are suspected of becoming pregnant

Who should delay vaccination?

If you’re sick and have a high fever, or if you’re hot and shivering, you should postpone getting the HPV vaccine.

This is to prevent conflating the illness’s symptoms with the vaccine’s response.

There’s no reason to put off getting vaccinated for a minor sickness like the common cold.

What if you miss your vaccine?

If you missed either of your HPV vaccine shots when you were eligible in Year 8, speak to your school immunisation team or your GP clinic. They should schedule a time to catch up as soon as feasible.

The HPV vaccine and men who have sex with men (MSM)

Because females do not pass HPV on to boys, the long-standing HPV vaccination programme for girls indirectly protects boys from malignancies and genital warts connected to HPV infection.

The HPV immunisation programme for girls has not helped MSM in the same way.

MSM, on the other hand, have a higher risk of cancers connected to HPV types 16 and 18, including cancers of the anus, penis, mouth, and throat.

MSM are also susceptible to HPV types 6 and 11-related genital warts.

MSM aged 45 and under are eligible for free HPV vaccination on the NHS if they visit a specialised sexual health service (SHS) or HIV clinic.

MSM will require two doses of the vaccine, six months apart, beginning April 1, 2022. To be properly protected, you must have both dosages.

MSM with HIV or a damaged immune system (immunosuppressed) requires three doses of the HPV vaccine.

For more information, speak with the clinic’s doctor or nurse.

Transgender people and the HPV vaccine

The HPV vaccine is also available to some transgender people.

If their risk of obtaining HPV is equivalent to that of MSM who are eligible for the HPV vaccine, trans women (those who were assigned male at birth) are eligible for the vaccine.

If they have intercourse with other guys and are under the age of 45, trans men (those who were designated female at birth) are eligible.

If trans guys have already had HPV vaccination as part of the girls’ HPV vaccination programme, no additional doses are required.

For more information, consult a doctor or nurse at a specialist sexual health service (SHS) or HIV clinic.

How is the HPV vaccine given?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is administered as a two-dose injection into the upper arm, separated by at least six months.

The first dose of the HPV vaccine is given to girls and boys in Year 8 who are 12 and 13 years old.

Girls and boys who are eligible for the HPV vaccine in Year 8 but did not receive their doses at school can acquire it until they are 25 years old.

If you were not vaccinated and want to be, talk to your school nurse, school immunisation team, or GP clinic about being vaccinated.

Consent to the HPV vaccine

When girls and boys are in Year 8, they will normally receive an invitation letter, vaccine information, and a consent form.

Although a parent must sign the consent form, it is the legal responsibility of the individual receiving the vaccine to decide whether they want it or not, as long as they are aware of the risks.

You don’t have to have the HPV vaccine if you don’t want to, but you should talk to your parents, the school immunisation team, or your GP or practice nurse about it.

The HPV vaccine has a solid safety record and will prevent HPV infections and malignancies caused by HPV.

Doses and timings of the HPV vaccine

Since 2012, Gardasil has been the HPV vaccine of choice in the NHS immunisation regimen.

During the academic year 2021-2022, the HPV vaccine used in the NHS programme will be replaced with Gardasil 9.

The course requires two doses, with the second dose given 6 to 24 months after the first.

Gardasil 9 can be used for the first and second doses, or to finish a course that started with Gardasil.

When your vaccines are due, your school will notify you.

HPV vaccine safety

Gardasil is the name of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine that is being used in the NHS immunisation programme.

Since 2012, Gardasil has been the HPV vaccine used in the NHS vaccination programme.

Until September 2012, a vaccine known as Cervarix was in use.

During the academic year 2021-2022, the HPV vaccine used in the NHS programme will be replaced with Gardasil 9.

How do we know the HPV vaccines are safe?

Only if scientific examinations, known as clinical trials, prove that a vaccine is safe and effective and that the benefits outweigh the dangers, may it be used in people.

The data from these trials are then reviewed by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The committee will approve a licence for use in the UK if the trials show a vaccination is safe.

Gardasil 9, Gardasil, and Cervarix have all been granted EMA approval for usage in the United Kingdom.

The safety record of the HPV vaccine

For many years, countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and much of Western Europe have used the HPV vaccine.

Over 100 million people have been immunised around the world.

For many years, a number of authorities throughout the world, notably the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), have closely tracked the use of the HPV vaccine.

They continue to claim that the HPV vaccine is extremely safe, based on a variety of safety statistics.

There are potentially minor side effects connected with the HPV vaccination, like with any drug or vaccine.

Can the HPV vaccine cause long-term (chronic) conditions?

Many clinical trials and scientific investigations have been conducted to discover if there are any correlations between HPV vaccination and other diseases, such as:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (sometimes called ME)
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Postural tachycardia syndrome
  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome

They discovered no difference in the number of cases of these illnesses between persons who have been vaccinated against HPV and those who have not.

The World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety evaluates new international evidence on the safety of HPV vaccination on a regular basis.

It released a statement in March 2017 indicating that there is no evidence of a relationship between HPV vaccination and these illnesses.

Monitoring safety of HPV vaccines

Doctors, other healthcare professionals, and members of the public can use the Yellow Card Scheme to report possible side effects from any medication, including immunizations.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is in charge of it (MHRA).

The scheme examines the reports on a regular basis and, if there is a potential problem, conducts an investigation and, if necessary, takes appropriate action.

Pharmaceutical companies are also required by law to report serious and suspected adverse occurrences to the MHRA.

What difference has the HPV vaccine made so far?

The UK HPV vaccination programme began in 2008, and there is evidence that the vaccine is effective based on national vaccination programmes in England, Scotland, and other nations.

Infection rates with the two main cancer-causing HPV kinds in women and men have dropped dramatically, as has the number of young people with genital warts.

In recent Scottish research, vaccinated women had an 89% reduction in serious cervical abnormalities.

Hundreds of deaths from cervical cancer are predicted to be prevented each year as a result of the UK programme.

Cervical cancer can take many years to develop following HPV infection, therefore determining the overall benefits of the vaccination programme will take some time.

HPV vaccine side effects

Very common side effects of the HPV vaccine

More than one out of every ten patients who have received the Gardasil or Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine has:

  • The most frequent side effect is redness, swelling, or soreness at the injection site, which should go away after a few days.
  • Headaches – but only for a short period of time

Common side effects

More than 1 in 100 people have had the Gardasil or Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine, but less than 1 in 10 have had the Gardasil or Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine:

  • Bruising or itching at the injection site
  • A high temperature or a shivering sensation
  • Feeling unwell (nausea)
  • Arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, or toes ache

Rare side effects

Fewer than one in 1,000 people who have received the Gardasil or Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine have experienced the following:

  • A rash that is itchy and red (hives)

Very rare side effects

Gardasil or Gardasil 9 HPV vaccine recipients account for less than 1 in 10,000 of the population:

  • Breathing difficulties and airway obstruction

Other side effects

Following immunisation, some people may feel dizzy or faint.

Girls and boys are advised to sit or lie down for the injection in the school-delivered vaccination programme, and any indicators of an initial reaction are watched.

If they are worried or have a history of fainting, they may be observed for a little longer (approximately 15 minutes) to assist lessen the risk of their fainting or injuring themselves while falling over.

Talk to the person who gave you your immunisation, a pharmacy, your doctor, or a nurse if you experience any further symptoms.

Reporting side effects

You can also use the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s Yellow Card Scheme to report any side effects you suspect are related to the HPV vaccine.

Allergic reactions

Some patients may experience a more severe allergic reaction, known as an anaphylactic reaction, shortly after receiving the HPV vaccine.

If a person has a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine, the healthcare practitioner who administers it will be completely prepared to handle it.

Treatment usually results in complete recovery within a few hours.