The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is given as an injection into the upper arm: 2 doses are needed, with at least 6 months between them.
The 1st dose of the HPV vaccine is offered to girls and boys aged 12 and 13 years in Year 8 of school.
People who have the 1st dose of the HPV vaccine at 15 years of age or above will need to have 3 doses of the vaccine.
Girls and boys who became eligible for the HPV vaccine in Year 8, but missed having their doses at school, can get the vaccine up until their 25th birthday.
Talk to your school nurse, school immunisation team or GP surgery about getting vaccinated if you missed out and want to have it.
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 whether they want it or not, as long as they understand what's involved in having it.
You do not have to have the HPV vaccine if you do not want to, but it's a good idea to discuss it with your parents, the school immunisation team, or your GP or practice nurse.
The HPV vaccine has a good safety record and will help protect you against HPV infections and HPV-related cancers.
The HPV vaccine: doses and timings
Gardasil has been the HPV vaccine used in the NHS vaccination schedule since 2012.
Sometime during the 2021 to 2022 academic year the HPV vaccine used in the NHS programme will switch to Gardasil 9.
2 doses are needed to complete the course, with the 2nd dose given 6 to 24 months after the 1st dose.
Gardasil 9 can be given for the 1st and 2nd dose or to complete a course that was previously started with Gardasil.
Your school will let you know when your vaccinations are due.
If you miss one of the doses, speak to the school immunisation team or your GP surgery about making an appointment to have the missed dose. Ideally, this should be done as close as possible to the date of the missed vaccine.
Page last reviewed: 10 May 2019
Next review due: 10 May 2022