HPV vaccination

HPV vaccination

Vaccination prevents infection with the most common cancer-causing strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine was originally developed at the University of Queensland by ACCF Medical Advisor, Professor Ian Frazer, and his late colleague, Dr. Jian Zhou. 

About the HPV vaccines

Like other vaccines there are different brands of the HPV vaccine available. The original vaccine, Gardasil was available from 2007 – 2017 and protected against 70% of cervical cancers. Today in Australia, Gardasil®9 and Cervarix® are the brands of the vaccine currently available. Cervarix® protects against two strains of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancers and is only available on the private market. Gardasil®9 protects against 9 strains of HPV. It provides protection against 9 strains of HPV which are responsible for 90% of cervical cancers, 95% of other HPV related cancers and 90% genital warts. HPV-related cancers include almost all cancers of the cervix, and a proportion of cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, penis, head, neck and throat. Gardasil®9 is the vaccine offered for free to all Year 7 & 8 students as part of the school based National Vaccination Program.

Who the vaccine is for

The HPV vaccine is available for all individuals, regardless of gender. It is recommended for:

  • people aged 9–25 years (1 dose)
  • people with severely immunocompromising conditions (3 doses)
  • men who have sex with men (discuss dosage with your health professional)

The vaccine is most effective if received under the age of 15.

How does the HPV Vaccine work?

Like other vaccines, the HPV vaccine introduces your body’s immune system to what specific strains of HPV look like. However, it does not contain live viruses – rather, the vaccine is made to “look” like the real virus, so your immune system is tricked into making virus-fighting antibodies. This means that if or when you come in contact with the HPV virus, your body will recognise it and know how to clear it from the body. See here for more in depth information about how this works:

The first two minutes of this video (from Canada) gives a great explanation of how the HPV vaccine works to fight off HPV:

credits HPVinfoCanada

In this video Professor Ian Fraser discusses why he invented the vaccine, the history of how the vaccine was developed and the technology behind it:


HPV & Me Awareness for School is a FREE program for high school students to empower them with knowledge about the HPV vaccine and ways to reduce the health risks associated with HPV.

For more information about HPV, visit hpv.com.au – a website created by Seqirus Australia.

Read more about the school-based National HPV Vaccination program available in Australia.


Why is the HPV vaccine given in Year 7 or 8?

Essentially there are two reasons:

  • The vaccine is most effective if administered before an individual is exposed to HPV through sexual activity. 
  • Studies show that the body’s immune response to the vaccine is best between the ages of 9 and 14.
Can I get the vaccine if I’m over the age of 25?

Vaccination of all adults aged 26 years and older is not routinely recommended, as many are likely to have been exposed to one or more HPV strains through sexual activity. However, this is something that can be discussed with your GP. Adults aged 26 years and older are recommended to have 3 doses.

Is the HPV vaccine safe?

Yes. It is not possible to get an HPV infection from the vaccine. The World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety has reported more than 270 million doses of HPV vaccines have been administered worldwide. Adverse events following receipt of the vaccine are no more likely than with any other vaccine.

Why is the HPV vaccine available for all genders?

As HPV can be spread through sexual contact it is important that all eligible individuals are vaccinated. Cervical cancer is only one of the results of HPV infection. Cancers of the anus, penis, vulva, vagina, head, neck and throat are also possible.

Previously 2 to 3 doses of the vaccine were recommended, but comprehensive research has shown that 1 dose is just as effective for preventing HPV in young people.

HPV vaccination is recommended for men who have sex with men, regardless of their age, and who have not previously been vaccinated. This is due to an increased risk of repeated and persistent HPV infection and associated diseases, such as genital warts and anal cancer.