Arm yourself against cervical cancer with the HPV vaccine
For parents whose daughters are due to have their HPV vaccination, at school, the whole process can appear quite daunting. However, knowing the facts about the vaccine and why it is offered to young women across England can give parents reassurance and confidence in making that decision.
Cervical cancer is still the leading cause of death in women aged under 35yrs in the UK - deaths which can be prevented with the HPV vaccination, combined with regular cervical screening.
In order to protect women from developing cervical cancer the HPV vaccine is recommended for all girls from the age of 12 years up to their eighteenth birthday.
HPV and how it spreads
The human papillomavirus is very common and it is caught through intimate sexual contact with another person who already has it. As it is a very common infection, most people will get it during their lifetime. In most women the virus does not cause cervical cancer but having the vaccine is important because we do not know who is at risk of going on to develop cancer.
There are many types of human papillomavirus. The HPV vaccine protects against the two types that cause most cases (over 70%) of cervical cancer. HPV vaccine is used in 84 countries including the USA, Australia, Canada, and most of Europe and more than 80 million people have received the vaccine worldwide. There is evidence from Australia, Denmark, Scotland and England that the vaccine is already having a major impact on HPV infections. In time it is expected that the vaccine will save hundreds of lives every year in the UK.
Having the vaccination
Your daughter will be offered the first injection in year 8. The second one will be offered 6 to 12 months after the first, but it can be given up to 24 months after. It’s important that your daughter receives both doses to be protected.
If your daughter misses a vaccination, can she still have it?
Yes. If your daughter missed any of her vaccinations you should speak to your nurse or doctor about making another appointment as soon as possible. It’s important to have two doses before the age of 15 yrs. If your daughter has not had any HPV vaccine by 15 years she will need three doses to develop full protection; the response to two doses in older girls is not quite as good. Again, speak to your nurse or doctor, if you are unsure, or visit www.nhs.uk/hpv where you can download a question-and-answer sheet. For details about cervical screening visit www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk
Please don’t forget that...
- Girls who have the vaccine will significantly reduce their chance of getting cervical cancer.
- Having this vaccine will also protect you against most cases of genital warts. It won’t protect you against any other sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia.
- Having this vaccine won’t stop you getting pregnant.
- Cervical screening (smear tests) will continue to be important whether you have had the HPV vaccine or not.