Skip to main content

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.

From September 2019, the first dose of the HPV vaccine will be offered to girls and boys aged 12 and 13 in Year 8 of school.

People who have their first vaccination after the age of 15 will need to have 3 doses.

Females born after 1 September 1991 who missed their HPV vaccine at school can get the vaccine up until their 25th birthday.

Boys born after 1 September 2006 who become eligible for the HPV vaccine in September 2019 will also be able to get the vaccine up until their 25th birthday if they miss having their 2 doses at school.

Consent to the HPV vaccine

Girls and boys 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 decision of the person having the vaccine as to whether or not they want it, as long as they understand the issues involved in having it.

People do not have to have the HPV vaccine if they do not want to, but they can discuss their decision with their parents, the school immunisation team, or their GP or practice nurse.

The HPV vaccine has a good safety record and will help to protect against HPV infections and 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 

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

If a person misses either of their HPV vaccinations at school, for whatever reason, they should speak to the school immunisation team or their GP surgery about making another appointment.

Ideally, this should be done as close as possible to the date of their missed vaccination.

Females born after 1 September 1991 who missed their HPV vaccine at school can get the vaccine up until their 25th birthday.

Boys born after 1 September 2006 who become eligible for the HPV vaccine in September 2019 will also be able to get the vaccine up until their 25th birthday if they miss having their 2 doses at school.

They 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