How is the HPV vaccine given?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is currently given as an injection into the upper arm: 2 doses are needed, with at least 6 months between them.
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 3 doses.
Girls who have missed their vaccine can get the vaccine up until their 25th birthday.
Consent to the HPV vaccine
Girls will usually receive an invitation letter, information about the vaccine and a consent form when they're in Year 8.
Although a parent is asked to sign the consent form, it's 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 does not have to have the HPV vaccine if she does not 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 6 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 who have missed their HPV vaccination, up to their 25th birthday, should talk to their GP surgery about how to get vaccinated and the schedule for their 3 doses.
Page last reviewed: 31 October 2017
Next review due: 31 October 2020