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HPV vaccine

 

Having the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is important to prevent a range of cancers and genital warts. Getting the vaccine now protects you against future risks. 

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Background

HPV is a very common virus which usually has no symptoms. More than 70% of people who haven’t had the HPV vaccine will get HPV at some point in their life. 

Most people who become infected with HPV clear the virus from their body, but others may develop a range of cancers in later life caused by the HPV virus. 

HPV is usually spread through intimate sexual contact. Condoms don't provide complete protection. Some people may also develop genital warts, which can sometimes be difficult to treat. 
 

HPV vaccine

Having the vaccine is important because we can't predict who will develop cancer or genital warts. Getting the vaccine now protects you against future risks.

You can find more information on the vaccine and diseases at NHS 111 Wales - HPV vaccine (external site).

 

Changes to the HPV vaccination programme from 1 September 2023

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued new guidance on the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme, recommending that one dose of the vaccine now provides excellent protection.

This change (from two doses) will happen in England and Wales from 1 September 2023.

The HPV vaccine is highly effective at protecting against cancers caused by HPV, including cervical cancer.

 

Eligibility for the vaccine

The HPV vaccine is offered to:

  • boys and girls aged 12 to 13 (school year 8) in school, and 
  • those who may have missed their vaccination but are still eligible up to the age of 25 (That is, boys who were in school year 8 on or after 1 September 2019 and girls who became eligible for the vaccine on or after 1 September 2008.) 

The vaccine is available through specialist sexual-health services and HIV clinics to men who are 45 or younger and who are gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). 

 

About the vaccine

The brand name of the vaccine used in the UK is Gardasil 9

The HPV vaccination is normally given as an injection in the top of the arm.  

One dose offers excellent protection for eligible children, young people and adults under 25. Men who are gay bisexual or other men who have sex with men aged 25 to 45 need two doses of the vaccine for the best protection. People who are immunosuppressed (have a weakened immune system) or who have HIV may need three doses – speak to your GP or practice nurse for advice about this if you are under 25. If you are an eligible man aged 25 to 45 speak to the doctor or nurse at your sexual-health or HIV clinic. 

 

Side effects

Common side effects are a sore, swollen red area where the vaccination was given. Sometimes a small, painless hard lump may also form at the injection site. These side effects usually disappear after a couple of days. 

Less common side effects include headaches, nausea and fever (high temperature). Other, more serious, reactions are rare. 

For more information on common and rare side effects, go to:   

If you are concerned about symptoms call NHS 111 Wales (external site). Calls to NHS 111 Wales are free from landlines and mobile phones. 

You can report suspected side effects of vaccines and medicines through the Yellow Card scheme. You can do this online at mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or by calling the Yellow Card scheme hotline on 0800 731 6789 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).   

 

Information for the public

If you would like to learn more about the HPV vaccine or the diseases it protects against, see the information listed below.  

You can also call NHS 111 Wales or your GP surgery for advice if you have any questions. 

 

 

 

 

More information

Cervical Screening Wales - About HPV

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust - Cervical Cancer Charity