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?

From 6 February 2023, healthy young people aged 12-13 years will only need one dose of the same (Gardasil®9) human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. This change follows the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advice that a single dose gives excellent protection that is comparable to protection from two doses.

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

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

Who is the vaccine provided free for?

Year 7 school-based immunisation program

The HPV vaccine is offered to students in year 7 for free through the School-Based Immunisation Program

If students missed their vaccination at school, they can receive a catch-up vaccination from another immunisation provider such as at community immunisation clinics, or at participating GPs, pharmacies or Aboriginal Medical Services. Those who missed out on their HPV vaccination where they were first eligible can catch-up until 26 years of age.

Note: Some immunisation providers may charge a consultation fee for administering the vaccine. You should check if there are any costs when making an appointment. 

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.

HPV vaccine safety

The HPV vaccine is safe and well tolerated. More than 350 million doses of Gardasil and 110 million doses of Gardasil®9 have been administered worldwide (as of September 2021). The vaccine does not contain live HPV virus, but instead contains a protein that helps the body’s immune system fight HPV infection.

The chance of a severe reaction from Gardasil®9 is very small, but the risks from not being vaccinated against diseases caused by HPV may be very serious. The reactions people have had after the HPV vaccine have been similar to reactions after other vaccines. See the latest data from active follow up of children who have been vaccinated against HPV in Australia (external site)

Learn more about vaccination safety in WA.

Possible reactions to immunisation

The most common side effects include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site. These symptoms can be treated with a cold pack or paracetamol if needed. For more information, visit possible side effects of vaccination.

The common side effects can be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids and not overdressing if you have a fever
  • placing a cold wet cloth on the sore injection site.

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.

Concerns about side effects 

If a side effect following immunisation is unexpected, persistent or severe, or if you are worried, see your doctor or immunisation provider as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital.

It is important to seek medical advice for anyone who is unwell. 

Immunisation side effects 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). WAVSS is the central reporting service in WA for any significant reaction following immunisation


More information

Where to get help

  • For emergency or life-threatening conditions, visit an emergency department or dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance
  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

Last reviewed: 06-02-2023

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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