Protect against most types of cancers caused by HPV – English version – NIP8940

June 2024
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Pamphlet in English explaining vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV).

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June 2024
June 2024
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Information for young people and their whānau

HPV immunisation is FREE for rangatahi (young people) aged 9 to 26 years.

HPV immunisation helps protect rangatahi against a number of cancers later in life.

    Nearly 8/10 people will be exposed to HPV in their lifetime

    What is HPV?

    Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of very common viruses that infect about 80% of people at some time in their lives. It's passed on through intimate skin-on-skin contact.

    Most HPV infections get better on their own. However, they can cause a number of different cancers for all genders later in life – such ascervical and throat cancer.

    Immunisation is your best protection

    The HPV vaccine is called Gardasil 9. It is very effective at preventing nine types of HPV.

    Most rangatahi (young people) are offered the vaccine at school, usually in Year 7 or 8. This is the best time to immunise them, as their immune system is really effective at making antibodies in response to the vaccine and protection is long-lasting.

    How effective is the vaccine?

    The HPV vaccine is very effective in preventing infection from the 9 types of HPV responsible for around 90% of the cancers caused by HPV.

    Protection is expected to be long-lasting. In studies, almost everyone who received the
    vaccine was protected against HPV infection and disease.

    The number of HPV infections and diseases has fallen significantly among rangatahi (young people) in countries offering HPV immunisation, including New Zealand.

    For this vaccine to be most effective people should be immunised before they are exposed to HPV.

    Rangatahi (young people) also need to have all the recommended number of vaccine doses for their age.

    • Those aged 9 to 14 years need two doses. The second dose is recommended 6 months after the first dose. This age group needs 2 doses instead of 3 doses of the vaccine to be protected because they respond better to the vaccine than the older age group.
    • Those aged 15 years and older need 3 doses. It is recommended to have a 6 month gap between each dose.

    Rangatahi aged 9 to 14 years only need two doses.

    What alternatives are there to having the immunisations at school?

    If your school is not offering HPV immunisation or you have missed out for any other reason, you can easily catch up with a visit to your medical centre, pharmacy or healthcare provider.

    Delaying HPV immunisation may mean you need another dose to be protected, as rangatahi aged 15 years and older need 3 doses.

    Who shouldn't be immunised?

    There are very few people who shouldn’t be immunised. If you have had a serious reaction to a vaccine in the past, you should talk to your doctor, vaccinator or healthcare provider.

    Tips to prepare for vaccination

    Eating before and after will make you less likely to feel faint or dizzy.

    • Wear a loose shirt with short sleeves so the vaccinator can easily access the upper arm.
    • Tell the vaccinating team if you are feeling scared or anxious, they can help you with this.
    • Take things easy after the immunisation as your arm might be a bit sore.

    Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past should discuss immunisation with their usual doctor or healthcare provider.

    Side effects and reactions

    The most common reaction is a sore arm from the injection - you can put a cold cloth
    or ice pack on it to feel better.

    Other common side effects include:

    • a headache
    • feeling tired, dizzy, or sick
    • feeling feverish or sweaty.

    Serious allergic reactions (known as anaphylaxis) are extremely rare. Only about 1 in 1 million people will experience this.

    The vaccinator is well-trained and knows what to look for and can treat an allergic reaction quickly if it happens.

    Serious allergic reactions normally happen soon after the vaccine has been given. This is why people need to wait for up to 20 minutes after immunisation.

    People recovering from illnesses such as a cold, flu, or Covid-19 (after isolation) can still be immunised as long as they do not have a fever.

      For more information about getting immunised against HPV