What do parents need to know about HPV and the HPV vaccine?
HPV is a common, contagious virus that can cause cancers and diseases in both men and women. It spreads mainly by contact during sexual activity.
Without vaccination, 90% of adults will have a HPV infection at some point in their life. There is no treatment to get rid of HPV infection.
In most people the virus causes no symptoms and goes away by itself, but sometimes it can persist and cause types of cancer or serious illness.
HPV vaccination is a safe and reliable way to protect young people from getting a range of HPV-related cancers and diseases.
It involves getting two injections, six months apart. It is important to receive two doses to get the best possible protection against HPV.
Young people aged 12-13 can receive the HPV vaccine free of charge at school through the National Immunisation Program.
Before your child gets the vaccination, parents or caregivers need to sign a consent form your child’s school provides and return it to the school.
Delaying vaccination to 15 years of age or older will mean that three doses are required instead of two. The National Immunisation Program only covers two doses for free. Individuals who did not receive the vaccine at school are eligible for two free catch up doses up to 19 years of age through a GP or other immunisation provider.
How effective is the HPV vaccine?
Almost all HPV infections that cause abnormal cells and cancer can be prevented by the HPV vaccine.
The HPV vaccine prevents several cancers, including:
- cervical cancer in females
- vaginal and vulval cancers in females
- anal cancer in females and males
- throat cancers in females and males
- penile cancer in males.
The HPV vaccine also protects against almost all cases of genital warts in both males and females.
Studies show the vaccine is very effective in Australia. Since it was introduced in 2007, rates of HPV infections, pre-cancers of the cervix and genital warts have greatly decreased.
Is the HPV vaccine safe?
HPV vaccines used in Australia are very safe. All HPV vaccines available in Australia have been thoroughly tested and more than 270 million doses have been given around the world.
The HPV vaccine has been provided through school based programs in Australia since 2007 for females and 2013 for males. In Australia, as in other countries, there is ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety.
How to explain the HPV vaccine to your kids
This video explains more about the HPV vaccine and what to expect when it’s given at school.
Have you heard about the Human Papillomavirus, or HPV?
It’s a common contagious virus that affects all genders.
It spreads via sexual contact, and can cause genital warts, cervical cancer, as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis and throat area.
Infection can be serious, but with the HPV vaccine there is a way to protect yourself.
It safely and effectively provides protection against a range of cancers and diseases, caused by 9 types of HPV.
And getting vaccinated is easy.
To be protected, you need two doses, six to twelve months apart.
Your school will give you more information about the vaccine, as well as a consent form that you will need to get signed by your parent or guardian.
If you miss a dose, speak to your GP or school-based immunisation provider about how you can catch up.
Talk to them about what you need to do.
So look out for more info and talk to your parent or guardian.