What is the HPV vaccine?
A vaccine called Gardasil 9 protects against seven human papillomavirus (HPV) types that cause around 90% of cervical cancers. The vaccine also protects against two non-cancer-causing HPV types which cause 90% of genital warts.
Gardasil 9 is available through the National HPV Vaccination Program where girls and boys aged 12-13 are offered the vaccine for free in schools. For people aged 14 and under, the HPV vaccine is given as two injections and works best if the second injection is given 6–12 months after the first.
Girls and boys aged up to 19 who are not in the eligible school year levels can obtain two doses of the vaccine for free from their local immunisation provider or doctor as part of the ongoing program. Note that those aged 15 or older at the time of their first vaccination require three doses for best protection.
Do HPV-vaccinated women still need a Cervical Screening Test?
Yes, HPV-vaccinated women still need to have a Cervical Screening Test (the Pap test replacement*) every 5 years.
While the HPV vaccine is effective at protecting against cervical cancer-causing types of HPV, it doesn’t protect against all types of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer.
This means that both HPV-vaccinated and unvaccinated women need to have regular Cervical Screening Tests to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer.
The HPV Vaccine and Cervical Screening Test work together to prevent cervical cancer.
When is the best time to have the HPV vaccine?
The best time to have the HPV vaccination is before a person becomes sexually active.
The HPV vaccine is not effective against an HPV infection that is already in the body, so it’s best to vaccinate before potential exposure to the virus through sexual contact.