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Doctor and Patient

HPV Vaccine

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) Vaccination

The department of Health has agreed to introduce human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination for girls aged 12-13 and it is being discussed for inclusion into the national immunisation programme.

About HPV

Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name for a family of viruses that affect the skin and the moist membranes lining the human body, which includes the cervix (neck of the womb), anus, mouth and throat. There are more than one hundred types of HPV, including around 40 types of HPV infection which can affect the genital area, which are further classed as high risk and low risk.

What HPV infection can do

  • Infection with some types of HPV can cause abnormal tissue growth and other changes to cells, which can lead to cervical cancer. Other types of HPV infection can cause minor problems, such as common skin warts and verrucas. Around 30 HPV types are transmitted through sexual contact, including the types that can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. Genital warts are the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK. HPV infection is also linked to vaginal cancer and vulval cancer, although both are rare conditions.

Cervical Screening

Cervical cancer is the 12th most common women's cancer in the UK. Worldwide, it is the second most common. In the UK, a women's lifetime risk of developing cervical cancer is 1 in 116.

The Vaccine

HPV vaccination creates antibodies against two types of HPV which can cause cervical cancer, not against the cancer itself. It does not protect against other forms of cancer which are not caused by HPV infection. The vaccine cannot protect against HPV infection that is already present, nor can it treat an existing infection.

Why should it be done

Vaccination against the human papilloma virus (HPV) protects against some types of the virus. These types can cause some health conditions such as cervical cancer and genital warts. Around 99% of cervical cancer is caused by two high risk types of HPV. Most cases of genital warts are caused by two low risk types of HPV.

How it works

The vaccine works by preventing infection with some types of the human papilloma virus (HPV). It protects against cervical cancer, precancerous tissue in the female genitals including the cervix and the vulva, and genital warts. The vaccine creates antibodies against four types of HPV; known as quadrivalent. The four types are HPV types 16 and 18, which can cause cervical cancer, and HPV types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts. If already infected with one or more of these four types, the vaccine can still protect you against the others. To provide the most benefit and protection, the vaccine needs to be given before sexual activity begins, and best given to children before they reach puberty. The vaccine does not contain active live virus, so it cannot cause HPV infection, nor can 

it cause HPV cervical cancer or genital warts.

Before considering the vaccination its important to tell the doctor if the person to be vaccinated has and conditions for example thrombocytopaenia, a condition that makes them bleed more than normal, a weakened immune system, for example a genetic defect, or HIV infection. Also as with any medication or vaccine, you should not use HPV vaccine if allergic to any of its ingredients, have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine, or suffering from an illness with a high fever. The vaccine can be given if a mild fever is present such as the common cold. Ask your Doctors advice if pregnant or trying for a baby, or if you become pregnant after starting the three-dose vaccination course. Also seek the doctors advice if breastfeeding, or intend to breastfeed.

How the Vaccine is Given

The Doctor will give the vaccine as an injection into the muscle of the upper arm or thigh. Three doses are needed, the second and third doses will be given two months and six months after the first dose. Its important to return for the second and third injections, if all three injections are not given, you may not be protected. The HPV vaccine should not be given at the same time as other vaccines, except for the vaccine to protect against hepatitis B which may be given at he same visit, and the injection is given at a different site for example the upper arm or thigh, this will be discussed at consultation with the doctor.

Where to get the Vaccination

It is available at private health and medical clinics, for example, The Capio clinic, where a fee will be charged,

Side Effects

The HPV vaccine can cause side effects in some people,

  • More than 1 in 10 had some pain, swelling or redness on the arm or thigh

  • A mild fever is also a common side effect

  • slight itching or slight bleed where injection was given

  • 1 in 1,000 have had hives (urticaria)

  • less than 1 in 10,000 have experienced breathing difficulties (bronchospasm)

These will be discussed at consultation with the Doctor

Cervical screening in women aged 25-65 remain the best way to pick up abnormal changes in cells at an early stage, before they lead to cancer, cervical smear tests pick up abnormalities in about 200,000 women a year. Around 2,800 women a year are diagnosed with cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that may cause cervical caner. Research has shown that HPV vaccine's protection is effective for four and a half years after completing the three dose course, beyond that, it is not known how long the HPV vaccine's protection will last.


AThe price for the complete course of 3 injections, including consultation fees, at the Sunshine Clinic, is £455.00

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