14 Things to Know About the HPV Vaccine


HPV can be prevented and one of these preventative measures is the HPV vaccine. Since it became available, many health professionals have offered this vaccine to adolescent girls and young women. With the links between HPV and cervical cancer well established, this vaccine is an important aspect of the continuum of responses to the HPV virus and HPV treatment.

Here we provide X facts about the HPV vaccine:

1)     The vaccine is not necessary for young women who are not sexually active. However, many females consider it wise to still have the vaccine if there is a possibility that they will become sexually active for the vaccine can offer considerable protection against cervical cancer.

2)     As there are more than 200 identified strains of the HPV virus, there is a likelihood that 70% of us will acquire some strain of HPV in our lifetime.

3)     If a person is sexually active even once, there is a more than 50% chance that they will acquire a sexually transmitted type of HPV. There is no absolutely certain way of knowing whether a sexual partner is carrying a strain of HPV and similarly, there is often no way for an individual to know when the HPV virus has been transmitted to them.

4)     Particular types of HPV have been proven as high-risk for cervical cancer development. After infection, these strains can be dormant in the body for years until pre-cancerous lesions develop in the cervix. If these do not receive treatment they can progress to cervical cancer.

5)     Research has shown that two types of the HPV virus (Type 16 and Type 18) account for more than 70% of all cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine that is available has been developed to protect against these two types of HPV specifically.

6)     Cervarix and Gardasil are the two brands of HPV vaccine, which protect only against HPV types 16 and 18. The HPV vaccine does not provide protection against any other strains of the HPV virus that are recognised as responsible for some cervical cancers and cancer of the vagina, vulva, anus, mouth, penis and throat.

7)     Women that receive the vaccine have an initial injection and will then require several boosters. It is important that the booster injections received are of the same brand as the initial vaccine injection.

8)    Regardless of whether a person receives the HPV vaccine, it is vital that they are educated about HPV and the ways that it can be transmitted.

9)     Annual examinations with a health professional as well as annual pap smears are important as soon as a female becomes sexually active. Pap smears are critical because the vaccine does not prevent all cervical cancers.

10)  In November 2006, the Australian Government announced funding dedicated to a HPV vaccination program. This program is listed on the National Immunisation Program.

11)  An ongoing school-based HPV vaccination program is in existence. Under this program, the HPV vaccine is provided to 12-13 year old females in their first year of secondary school. Parental consent is required for girls to receive the vaccine.

12)  HPV vaccine is given using single use vaccines. Usually, a six month period will see three doses of the vaccine given.

13)  From 2007 – 2009, a time limited HPV vaccine catch up program was delivered through schools, general practices and community immunisation providers. As well as provision through schools, the vaccine was made available to women aged 13-26 years up until 31 December 2009.

14)  Through the National HPV Vaccination Program Register, data is collected to measure the impact of the HPV Vaccination Program on cervical cancer rates. This register also issues reminders about incomplete courses of vaccines and reminds participants when booster doses are due. Under this register, personal details are kept confidential and no information is collected about a person’s sexual history. If a person does not give permission for their personal details to be included in the register, they forego contact being made when vaccine or booster doses are missed.

It is important to be fully informed about vaccines received and the diseases they are intended to prevent. The HPV vaccine is widely offered for its capacity to prevent particular types of the HPV virus known cause cervical cancer. Although the decision to or not to immunise against this virus is up to the individual, with the significant prevalence of the virus, it follows that vaccination is most often preferable to HPV treatment.