Who should have the HPV vaccine?
There are 2 HPV vaccination programmes in England. One is for girls and one is for men who have sex with men (MSM).
The HPV vaccine for girls
In England, girls aged 12 to 13 are routinely offered the first human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination when they're in year 8 at school. The second dose is usually offered 6 to 12 months after the first.
Girls who miss their vaccination can get the HPV vaccine for free on the NHS up until their 25th birthday. They can contact their school immunisation team or GP surgery.
The vaccine is effective at stopping girls getting the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.
It's important to have both doses to be properly protected.
Which girls should not be vaccinated?
The HPV vaccine should not be given to girls who:
- have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the HPV vaccine or any of its ingredients
- are pregnant
Which girls should delay vaccination?
HPV vaccination should be delayed for girls who are unwell and have a high temperature, or are feeling hot and shivery.
This is to avoid confusing the symptoms of the illness with the response to the vaccine.
There's no reason to delay vaccination for a mild illness, such as the common cold.
Girls who miss either of their HPV vaccine doses should speak to their school immunisation team or GP surgery to make an appointment to get up-to-date as soon as possible.
Older girls and the HPV vaccine
If the first dose of HPV vaccine has not been given by the time a girl is 15, she will need 3 doses to be fully protected. Having 2 doses is not as effective for older girls.
Speak to the school immunisation team or your GP surgery about making an appointment as soon as possible.
The HPV vaccine and men who have sex with men (MSM)
Vaccinating girls helps indirectly protect boys against cancers and genital warts linked to infection with HPV because girls will not pass HPV on to them. This is called herd immunity.
MSM do not benefit in the same way from the girls' HPV vaccination programme.
But they're at risk of cancers linked to infection with HPV types 16 and 18 that affect men, such as cancer of the anus, penis, mouth or throat.
MSM are also at risk of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11.
MSM up to and including the age of 45 are eligible for free HPV vaccination on the NHS when they visit GUM or HIV clinics.
MSM aged 15 and over need 3 doses of the vaccine. Those under 15 need 2. It's important to have all doses to be properly protected.
Ask the doctor or nurse at the clinic for more details.
Transgender people and the HPV vaccine
Some transgender people will also be eligible for the new programme offered to MSM from April 2018.
Trans women (people who were assigned male at birth) are eligible for the HPV vaccine if their risk of getting HPV is similar to the risk of MSM who are eligible for the HPV vaccine.
Trans men (people who were assigned female at birth) are eligible if they have sex with other men and are aged 45 or under.
If trans men have previously completed a course of HPV vaccination as part of the girls' HPV vaccine programme, no further doses are needed.
Ask the doctor or nurse at the GUM or HIV clinic for more details.
Page last reviewed: 31 October 2017
Next review due: 31 October 2020