Healthy living

HPV vaccine

  • The benefits of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are greatest when they are given before exposure to the virus.
  • In WA, the HPV vaccine used is called Gardasil®9. This vaccine protects young people from a range of cancers and diseases caused by HPV.
  • Latest scientific and medical evidence shows that one dose of HPV vaccine gives excellent protection. 
Why is it important to get the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine protects against strains of the virus that are sexually transmitted.

The benefits of HPV vaccination are greatest when the vaccines are given before exposure to the virus.

Almost all cervical cancers are linked to HPV infection. HPV vaccines are critical to eliminating cervical cancer.

Vaccination also protects against genital warts and HPV related genital, anal and throat cancers.

Who should have the vaccine?

People of all genders should have the HPV vaccine, preferably before they become sexually active.

Healthy young people who receive a single dose before 26 years of age will not need further doses.

Since 6 February 2023, healthy young people aged 12-13 years will only need one dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. This change follows the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) (external site) advice that a single dose gives excellent protection that is comparable to protection from two doses.

Where can I get immunised?

Most students in WA can get vaccinated against HPV as part of the School-Based Immunisation Program.This is a free, routine vaccination service for eligible Year 7 students.

If students missed their vaccination at school, they can receive a catch-up vaccination from another immunisation provider.

While the HPV vaccine is free for young people before they turn 26 years old, some immunisation providers may charge a consultation fee for administering the vaccine. You should check if there are any costs when making an appointment with your chosen provider. 

From 1 January 2024, some community pharmacists may offer HPV vaccines at no cost. Please check with your pharmacy.

Effectiveness of the HPV vaccine

Since the introduction of the national HPV vaccine program in 2007, data available up until the end of 2015 shows there has been a more than 90 per cent reduction in genital warts among Australian-born women and heterosexual men aged 21 years or younger attending sexual health clinics. In 2015, the proportion of people diagnosed with genital warts in both these groups was less than 1 per cent.

The HPV vaccine provides fully vaccinated people with protection against nine types of HPV including:

  • types 16 and 18, the two types that cause the majority of HPV-related cancers
  • the five next most common HPV types associated with cervical cancer (types 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58)
  • two non-cancer-causing HPV types (types 6 and 11), which cause 90% of genital warts.

HPV-related cancers include almost all cancers of the cervix, and some cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, penis and throat. The HPV vaccine is not effective against an HPV infection that is already in the body, so it is best to vaccinate before potential exposure to the virus. 

HPV vaccination does not protect against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. It is important for women and people with a cervix to have regular cervical screening.

Potential side effects

Some people experience common reactions such as pain, redness and swelling at the injection site. These symptoms can be treated with a cold pack or paracetamol if needed.

Any medicine, including the HPV vaccine, can have potentially serious side effects, such as severe allergic reaction. However, the risk of this is extremely small.

More severe side effects such as anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) are extremely rare. Rare reactions like these normally happen within 15 minutes of having the injection.

Learn more about the possible side effects of vaccination and how to manage them.

Concerns about side effects

If you have a reaction that is unexpected, or if you are unsure, consult with your immunisation provider.

If you believe your reaction is severe or life-threatening you should call triple zero (000) for an ambulance or go to your closest emergency department.

Any reactions causing you concern, whether minor or serious, can be reported to the Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance (WAVSS) system via the WA Vaccine Safety Surveillance (WAVSS) (external site) or call (08) 9321 1312 (8.30am to 4.30pm). The WAVSS system is the central reporting service in WA for any significant reaction following immunisation

Your immunisation provider such as the doctor (GP) or other health professional should report all suspected significant reactions, but you can also do it yourself.

More information

Where to get help

Last reviewed: 26-07-2023

Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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