Human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation
HPV vaccines are given as a needle. Most recognised immunisation providers can provide the vaccine. If you're eligible, you can get the HPV vaccine for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
Why get immunised against HPV?
HPV is a viral infection that is sexually transmitted. It can cause genital warts and cancer.
Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from HPV. The HPV vaccine is often called the ‘cervical cancer vaccine’.
By getting vaccinated against HPV, you can also help protect other people. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less the disease will spread.
Who should get immunised against HPV?
Anyone over 9 years old who wants to protect themselves against HPV can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.
HPV immunisation is recommended for:
- people aged approximately 12 to 13 years (at school), for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
- men who have sex with men, if they have not already had a full course of HPV vaccine
- people over 9 years old who have weakened immune systems.
The best time to be immunised against HPV is before you become sexually active. People who have had sexual contact may have been infected with some types of HPV already. If you have already been infected with any of the HPV types included in the HPV vaccine, the vaccine will not protect you against HPV-related cancers and disease caused by that HPV type. But you will be protected against the other types contained in the vaccine. There are 9 types covered in the vaccine provided through the NIP, including the four strains most likely to cause severe disease.
The decision to immunise adults aged 19 years or over depends on whether you are likely to have already been infected with HPV, and whether you are likely to be infected in the future.
People under 20 years old can get two doses of HPV vaccine for free from your GP or other immunisation provider under the NIP. If you did not receive the vaccines at school. This is called catch-up vaccination.
Where can you get an HPV immunisation?
HPV immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory. Most young people get immunised at school.
See Where can I get immunised? for more information.
How do you get immunised against HPV?
You can get HPV vaccines as a needle.
HPV vaccines include:
Your immunisation provider can tell you which vaccine they will use for your HPV immunisation.
Do I need to pay for HPV immunisation?
Vaccines are free for people who are eligible under the NIP. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible for.
Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can ask this when you make your appointment.
If you are over 15 years old when you get your first dose of HPV vaccine, you will need 3 doses, not 2 doses, to provide the best protection. You will need to pay for one of these doses because only 2 doses are covered under the NIP.
If you are not eligible for a free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your health care provider can give you more information.
What are the possible side effects of HPV immunisation?
All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.
For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.
Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of HPV vaccines, or if after having a HPV vaccine you or your child have symptoms that worry you.
Common side effects of HPV vaccines include:
- pain, redness and swelling where the needle went in
- body aches
The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against HPV? list the side effects of each vaccine.
- What is immunisation?
- How does immunisation work?
- NIP Schedule
- National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance
A number of resources have been developed to help you understand what HPV is and how you can get the vaccine:
- Information brochure for parents - available in English and 10 languages including Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Arabic, Greek, Italian, Punjabi, Filipino, Hindi, Korean and Vietnamese.
- Information poster for students
- Information video for parents
If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.