HPV vaccination was introduced in the UK in 2008 for secondary school girls 12-13 with a 2-year catch-up programme for 14-18-year-old girls.
The only successful method of preventing the changes to cells in the genital area, particularly in the cervix, is by giving the HPV vaccine. This has a 70-80% success rate.
In western countries, the vaccine is give to most girls aged 9-13 at school. The vaccine protects against 4 types of the virus (2 low risk, 2 high risk), and aims to reduce the woman’s cervical cancer risk by 70-80%.
If the woman did not receive the vaccine aged 9-13 and has not engaged in any sexual activity, she can still benefit from having the vaccine. If she has had sex, we can perform tests to determine if she has HPV.
At the moment, our scientific knowledge says that the vaccine provides permanent protection. However, we need at least 20 years from today to be able to answer this question. As the highest incidence of cervical cancer occurs after the age of 40, the most effective way is for medical researchers to check the statistics over the next 50 years so that, by then, today’s 9-13 year olds will be aged 60 and above. Therefore, we will then have a good level of data for accurate analysis.
We strongly encourage all girls to come forward and have the vaccine.
The vaccine is offered in 3 doses: the initial dose, then another 3 months later and a final dose at 6 months.
If you are (or have ever been) sexually active, before having the vaccine you should first have the smear test and a test for HPV. If both tests are clear, then you can have the vaccine.