VaccinationsHow is the HPV vaccine given?

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The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is currently given as an injection into the upper arm – two doses are needed, with at least six months between them.

Girls can get the vaccine up until their 18th birthday. It's important to have both doses to be protected.

The first dose of the HPV vaccine is offered to girls aged 12 and 13 in Year 8 of school. Girls who have their first vaccination after the age of 15 will need to have three doses.

Consent to the HPV vaccine

Girls will usually receive an invitation letter, information about the vaccine and a consent form when they are in Year 8.

Although a parent is asked to sign the consent form, it is legally the girl's decision as to whether or not she wants the vaccine, as long as she understands the issues involved in having it.

A girl doesn't have to have the HPV vaccine if she doesn't want to, but she can discuss her decision with her parents, the school immunisation team, or her GP or practice nurse.

The HPV vaccine has a good safety record and will help to protect against HPV infections and cervical cancer for many years.

The HPV vaccination: doses and timings

The vaccine currently used in the national vaccination programme is called Gardasil and is given on the following schedule:

  • first dose in Year 8 at school 

  • second dose at least six months after the first – in practice, some areas will give the second dose in Year 8 and others will give it in Year 9 

Girls will be informed by the school when their vaccinations are due.

If a girl misses either of her HPV vaccinations at school, for whatever reason, she should speak to the school immunisation team or her GP surgery about making another appointment. Ideally, this should be done as close as possible to the date of her missed vaccination.

Older girls, up to their 18th birthday, should talk to their GP about how to get vaccinated and the schedule for their three doses.

Page last reviewed: 13/03/2016
Next review due: 13/03/2019