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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 11–17 in Scotland and 12–17 in the rest of the UK (up until their 18th birthday), but only girls aged 11–13 in Scotland and 12–13 in the rest of the UK 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.

Number of doses Scotland (age vaccine given) England, Wales and Northern Ireland (age vaccine given) When vaccine doses given (months)
2 11–13 12–14

Dose 1: 0

Dose 2: 6–12

(up to 24)

3 15–18 15–18

Dose 1: 0

Dose 2: 2

Dose 3: 6

The NHS immunisation programme used Cervarix for the first four years of the programme, but from September 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 both (or all three) doses and in those who have not yet been infected with HPV [1][2][3][4]. However, while the vaccine can prevent against reinfection and contracting a different types of HPV, it has no effect on existing infections.

Boys and men

Boys are currently not included in the NHS vaccination scheme, as it was introduced specifically to help protect women against cervical cancer, as high-risk HPV causes 99.7% of all cervical cancer cases. However, based on the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) [5], NHS Wales, Scotland and England have announced that men who identify as being men who have sex with men (MSM) will now be able to access the HPV vaccine in sexual health, GUM and HIV clinics  to combat the fact that they are currently not protected by the herd protection that helps protect men who have sex with vaccinated women. In England and Wales this applies to men aged 16–45, in Scotland there is no lower age limit. Please see our information page on HPV vaccination for boys and men for more details.

More information on the NHS HPV vaccination programmes can be found below:

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), 301–314.
  2. Szarewski A, 2012. Cervarix®: a bivalent vaccine against HPV types 16 and 18, with cross-protection against other high-risk HPV types. Expert Review of 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. British Medical Journal 341: c3493.
  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.
  5. Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, 2014. JCVI interim position statement on HPV vaccination of men who have sex with men (MSM). https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil.... Accessed: 19.05.2015.
Date last updated: 
21 May 2015
Date due for review: 
21 May 2018

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