What is HPV?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name given to a very common group of viruses. There are many types of HPV, some of which are called "high risk" because they're linked to the development of cancers, such as cervical cancer, genital cancers and head and neck cancers. Other types can cause conditions like warts or verrucas.
Nearly all cervical cancers (99.7%) are caused by infection with a high-risk type of HPV. HPV infections don't usually cause any symptoms, and most people won't know they're infected.
There are more than 100 different types of HPV, and around 40 types that affect the genital area. HPV is very common and can be caught through any kind of sexual contact with another person who already has it.
Who can have the vaccine?
The vaccine is currently offered to girls in Year 8 and Year 9 (ages 12-14). From September 2019, the vaccine will be offered to boys in Year 8 (12-13). Unfortunately, Public Health England have decided there won't be a catch-up program for boys outside of this age range. Boys who won't be eligible for the vaccine will still be protected via herd immunity from girls who have been or will be vaccinated.
The HPV vaccine consists of two doses. The first dose is given in Year 8 with the second does being caught up in Year 9. It is important for teenagers to receive both doses of their HPV vaccine in order to be fully protected. It should be noted that from the age of 13, it is legal for children to self-consent to this vaccination if deemed competent.
The vaccine is given at such a young age because it works best before the young person comes into contact with any HPV virus (i.e. before becoming sexually active). If the first dose is given before the age of 15, only two doses are needed as the vaccine works more effectively. Once a teenager has turned 15, three doses are needed as the vaccine is less effective with age.
When is the vaccine given?
The HPV program is currently delivered in schools from May to July. From September 2019, consent forms for all vaccination programmes will be completed using an online system. The information about this system will go out to schools and then be passed onto parents. We aim to provide vaccination dates when the consent forms go out however this is not always possible if schools wish to change their date. All current dates can be found on the Immunisation Dates page.
What happens if my child misses the vaccine?
Should your child miss the vaccine on the day, either due to absence or refusal (needle phobia, anxiety), we can invite them to a catch-up clinic. Providing there is a consent form for your child and a contact number, we will contact you to arrange a catch-up appointment. We aim to run catch-up clinics in all areas during the school holidays. If your child missed their HPV vaccines in Year 8/9, but are still in school (Year 10 or 11), please contact us to book a clinic appointment.
For more information visit the NHS website
Click the link below to download the HPV leaflet