Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name given to a group of viruses that affect both females and males.
HPV is spread through close contact with genital skin during sexual activity with someone who has the virus. The virus passes through tiny breaks in the skin and is not spread through blood or other body fluids. Condoms offer limited protection, as they do not cover all of the genital skin.
Most people who are sexually active will have a genital HPV infection at some time in their lives. While the body usually clears the infection naturally and there are no symptoms, it can sometimes cause serious illness, including:
For more information about HPV and cancer visit
Cancer Council Australia – What is HPV?.
Gardasil9® (9vHPV) is a vaccine that protects against9 types of HPV which cause around 90% of cervical cancers in women, 95% of all HPV-related cancers in men and 90% of genital warts for all people.
Gardasil has been given as part of the National Immunisation Program since 2017. Data on HPV vaccination coverage in NSW is available on
From 2023 onwards, one dose of the HPV vaccine will be given instead of two-doses.
International research shows that one dose of any HPV vaccine provides the same protection as a two-dose course. Based on this evidence, other comparable countries such as the United Kingdom have also commenced transitioning to a one dose HPV vaccine schedule in 2023.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has reviewed the most recent international evidence and has recommended that the recommended dose be changed to a single dose. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has endorsed this change.
A small number of young people who are immunocompromised are still recommended to have a three-dose course of HPV vaccine to be protected. See
Recommendations for HPV vaccination for adolescents with significant immunocompromise.
Adolescents who have previously received two doses are still protected and considered up to date. There are no safety concerns for young people who have received two doses.
Many students have already received one dose of HPV vaccine in Year 7. Students who have missed their second dose of HPV vaccine no longer need it, and therefore do not need to do anything. They will be considered as up to date and fully vaccinated.
If HPV vaccination has been missed at school, only one dose in total is now needed. Catch-up should occur as soon as possible. Some schools will host catch-up clinics, otherwise parents should contact their local GP or pharmacist to arrange vaccination.
Free vaccine is available through the NSW School vaccination program to all students enrolled in Year 7. For students to be vaccinated, consent must be provided by the parent/guardian.
Consent can be completed online. Paper based and translated consent forms are also on request from the school for those who are unable to provide online consent.
For more information visit
NSW School Vaccination Program.
Adolescents who are significantly immunocompromised are recommended to have three doses of HPV vaccine. Dose 2 will be given at least 4 weeks after the first dose, and dose 3 will be given at least 12 weeks after dose 2 or 6 months after dose 1 (whichever is later).
Significant immunocompromise (regardless of age of commencing HPV vaccination) is defined as those with:
National and international recommendations advise that the best way to prevent HPV infection is to vaccinate young adolescents against HPV before they become sexually active. Studies show that the body’s immune reaction to the vaccine is best between 9 and 14 years of age.
The catch-up program for adolescents who missed vaccination has been extended to include young people up to, and including, 25 years of age. If you are eligible for a catch-up vaccine, discuss with your local GP or pharmacist.
If vaccination is provided through a GP or pharmacist, the vaccine will be free, but you may be charged a consultation fee.
HPV vaccination is not routinely recommended for people aged over 25 years of age. This is because HPV infection generally occurs soon after sexual activity commences, and vaccine effectiveness will be lower if there has been a prior infection. Individuals should speak to their GP for advice related to their particular circumstances.
After 25 years of age the HPV vaccines is not funded under the National Immunisation Program and will require a private prescription.
Regular cervical screening (previously called Pap smears) is still important for vaccinated women, as the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. All women from 25 to 74 years of age or who have ever been sexually active should have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years, regardless of their HPV vaccination status.
You can contact your local Public Health Unit on
1300 066 055 to discuss any questions you may have.