Date published: 
10 October 2019
Intended audience: 
General public

What is HPV?

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.

What do parents need to know about the HPV vaccine?

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 2 injections, 6 months apart.

It's important to receive 2 doses to get the best possible protection against HPV.

Can kids get the HPV vaccine at school?

Yes. 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, you need to sign the consent form your child’s school provides and return it to the school.

Can kids get the HPV vaccine if they’re older than 13?

Yes, but you will need to visit a GP or other immunisation provider to receive the vaccine. 

Delaying vaccination to 15 years of age or older means they'll need 3 doses instead of 2.

You will also need to pay for the third dose as the National Immunisation Program only covers 2 doses for free.

Can kids get the HPV vaccine if they missed it at school?

Yes. Kids who don't receive the vaccine at school are eligible for 2 free catch up doses before they turn 20. This can be given by 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.

Need help explaining the HPV vaccine to your kids?

This video explains more about the HPV vaccine and what to expect when it’s given at school.

The HPV logo with the words 12 yrs & 13yrs
Read transcript

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.

Nurse Caroline Scott explains more about the HPV vaccine

Mother and daughter using a tablet device
Read transcript

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a really common virus that’s passed from person to person through sexual contact

And affects both males and females

In most people it’s harmless and has no symptoms

And their immune system effectively gets rid of the virus

However, in some people the virus can persist and may lead to a number of HPV related diseases 

Including genital warts, cervical cancer, and some cancers of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and throat area

All students aged approximately 12 and 13 are offered the HPV vaccine for free in schools as part of the National Immunisation Program

It’s two injections that work best before boys and girls become sexually active

I know some people worry about vaccines, but I want my daughter to be as safe and protected as possible in all areas of her life

If the vaccine can protect her against HPV related cancers

Then it’s an easy decision for us

It’s just one less thing to worry about knowing my sons can get this vaccine

And it’s done in school

All my mates are getting vaccinated too

For me the safety of my kids is everything

HPV vaccines are proven to be safe

And have been used for over 10 years

With millions of doses given around the world

Which is really reassuring

Yeah, I had it last year at school and it didn’t hurt much

It was a bit red the next day, but I was fine

Vaccinations are available through school, which makes it easy

And if you miss a dose, speak to your GP or school-based immunisation provider about how you can catch up

Together we can keep our kids safe

Sign the consent form so your child can be vaccinated

And lets help protect against HPV

Samantha’s story

Samantha survived a rare but aggressive form of cervical cancer that her doctor said was highly likely caused by HPV. In this video, she explains the importance of signing the consent form so your child can get the HPV vaccine.

Image of a woman looking into the distance
Read transcript

My name is Sam.

I’m a two-time cancer survivor and this is my story. 

About ten years ago I went for my regular pap smear.

I had beaten thyroid cancer before so I was quite vigilant with screening. 

I had a biopsy and it turned out to be a rare but aggressive form of cervical cancer.

My thoughts instantly turned to my children who were only three and six at the time.

My doctor told me that it was highly likely that the human papillomavirus caused my cervical cancer.

I needed a full hysterectomy and my lymph nodes removed. 

If there was a HPV vaccine available to me when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have had to go through all of this.

My daughter got the HPV vaccine at her school. 

After everything I went through I didn’t think twice about signing her consent form.

My son is also due for his vaccine soon.

It puts me at ease knowing that this vaccine will help to protect them from going through what I went through.

It’s a simple choice.

Why would I expose my children to a life threatening disease if I didn’t have to?

If its preventable, why not?

The HPV vaccine is safe and effective.

Do the right thing by your kids.

Make sure they have the HPV vaccine.

Find out more:

HPV Campaign

These resources provide information about the benefits of the HPV vaccination, Gardasil® 9.

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra