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School-age girl receiving HPV vaccine injection.

School-age girl receiving HPV vaccine injection.
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HPV vaccine

3-minute read

A vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) was introduced in 2007. It is currently given free to both girls and boys aged approximately 12-13 years. Young people of this age are targeted for vaccination because it is best given before sexual activity begins.

There are 2 HPV vaccinations, delivered at school 6 months apart by a qualified immunisation provider. It is best that you get both doses to have a better chance of beating the virus, although none of these vaccinations are compulsory.

The first dose of the vaccine will be given either at school in year 7 or 8 or possibly at a doctor's surgery. The second dose will be given within 6 months.

If you delay getting the vaccination to 15 years or older, you will need to have 3 doses of the HPV vaccine. Only 2 doses are covered for free under the National Immunisation Program, so check with your doctor.

Vaccination is your best protection against HPV. This table explains how the vaccine is given, who should get it, and whether it is on the National Immunisation Program Schedule. Some diseases can be prevented with different vaccines, so talk to your doctor about which one is appropriate for you.

What age is it recommended? 9-14 years.
How many doses are required?

2 if aged 9–14 years.

3 if starting HPV vaccination at over 15 years of age, or if there are problems with your immune system.

How is it administered? Injection
Is it free?

Free for children aged approximately 12 to 13 years (at school).

For everyone else, there is a cost for this vaccine.

Find out more on the Department of Health website and the National Immunisation Program Schedule, and ask your doctor if you are eligible for additional free vaccines based on your situation or location.

Common side effects The vaccine is very safe. Common side effects include pain, redness and swelling where the needle went in, headache, tiredness, body aches and fever.

Changes to cervical screening

From 1 December 2017 the National Cervical Screening Program changed to improve early detection. The previous 2 yearly Pap test changed to a 5 yearly HPV test.

What should I do before 1 December 2017?
If you are a woman aged 18 to 69, you should continue to have your regular Pap test every 2 years.

When will I be due for my first HPV test?
Women will be due for the first HPV test at age 25 or 2 years after their last Pap test.

More information
Read more about changes to National Cervical Screening Program.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2019

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