The NHS vaccination programme

The UK’s national HPV immunisation programme was introduced into schools in 2008. The vaccine is free for all girls aged 12-17 (up until their 18th birthday) but only girls aged 12-13 will be routinely offered the vaccine. Girls are normally offered the vaccine in school but it is also possible to obtain the vaccines via a local GP surgery. If you are under 18 and have not been offered the vaccine please contact your GP for further advice.

The NHS immunisation programme used Cervarix for the first four years of the programme but from autumn 2012 this was changed to Gardasil. The vaccines are over 98% effective in preventing cervical abnormalities associated with HPV 16 and 18 in women who have all three doses and in those who have not yet been infected with HPV [1] [2] [3] [4]. However, efficacy is decreased if the vaccinated woman has already contracted the virus. In September 2014 the NHS immunisation programme changed the number of doses from three to two. This change has been made because recent research shows that antibody response to two doses in adolescent girls is as good as a three dose course in the age group. Boys are currently not included in the NHS vaccination scheme.

More information on NHS HPV vaccination programmes:

Northern Ireland

If you are not eligible for the free vaccine you can pay for it privately. Some local chemists are also offering the vaccine. Check with your pharmacist to see if the vaccine is available near you.


  1. Paavonen J. et al., 2009. Efficacy of human papillomavirus (HPV) -16/18 AS04- adjuvanted vaccine against cervical infection and precancer caused by oncogenic HPV types (PATRICIA): final analysis of a double-blind, randomised study in young women. The Lancet, 374 (9686), 301-14.
  2. Szarewski A. 2012. Cervarix®: a bivalent vaccine against HPV types 16 and 18, with cross-protection againstother high-risk HPV types. Expert Rev. Vaccines 11(6), 645–657.
  3. Dillner J. et al., 2010. Four year efficacy of prophylactic human papillomavirus quadrivalent vaccine against low grade cervical, vulvar, and vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia and anogenital warts: randomised controlled trial. BMJ 341: c3493.
    Available online: Accessed 03.05.2013.
  4. Kjaer S. et al., 2009. A pooled analysis of continued prophylactic efficacy of quadrivalent human papillomavirus (Types 6/11/16/18) vaccine against high-grade cervical and external genital lesions. Cancer Prevention Research 2 (10), 868-878.
Date last updated: 
04 Sep 2014
Date due for review: 
30 Apr 2015