The HPV vaccine is offered to girls aged 12 to 13 to help protect them against cervical cancer as early as possible. Having the HPV vaccine will reduced the risk of getting cervical cancer by 70 per cent.
What is the HPV vaccine for?
The HPV vaccine is given to help protect from cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus, or HPV. The vaccine protects against the two types of the virus that cause most (over 70 per cent) of cases of cervical cancer. It does not protect against all the other types of HPV, so cervical screening will still be needed.
How does HPV spread?
The HPV virus is very common and you can catch it by being sexually active with another person who already has the virus. There are usually no symptoms, so many won’t realise they are infected. Most of the time, the virus does not cause cancer because it is killed off by the body’s immune system, but not always – that is why the vaccine is so important.
Who will be offered the vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is offered to all 12 to 13 year old girls (year nine pupils in school).
How will the vaccination be given?
It is a school-based programme and a school health team from your local Health and Social Care Trust will give the vaccinations. Three injections are needed within 12 months to get the best protection. It is important that girls get all three vaccinations to get the best protection.
Is the HPV vaccine safe?
Yes, the vaccine meets the rigorous safety standards required for it to be used in the UK and other European countries.
Do parents need to give their consent for the vaccine to be given?
As with other forms of healthcare, parents will be asked for their consent before the vaccine is given.
What if a girl's parents don't want her to have the vaccination?
Parents of girls under 16 should discuss this with their daughter and get advice from the school health team. However, the decision is legally the girl's, as long as she understands the issues in giving consent.
Girls over 16 are presumed to be capable of consenting themselves, unless there are specific reasons otherwise.
More information on the HPV vaccine is available from the help protect yourself website.