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What is the HPV vaccine?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that most of us will have at some point in our lives. There are over 200 types, each with its own number.

13 HPV types are linked to cancer. These types are called high-risk HPV. The HPV vaccine aims to stop you getting some types of high-risk HPV.

Read more about HPV >

What are the vaccines?

Currently, there are 3 different HPV vaccines licensed in the UK that protect against HPV:

  • Gardasil
  • Cervarix
  • Gardasil 9.

Name of HPV vaccine

HPV types it protects against

Available on the NHS?

Available privately?


  • High-risk HPV 16 and 18
  • Low-risk HPV 6 and 11

Yes, if you are:

  • in school year 8/S1
  • under 25 years old and were offered the vaccine in school.



  • High-risk HPV 16 and 18




Gardasil 9

  • High-risk HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58
  • Low-risk HPV 6 and 11



Read more about who can have the HPV vaccine >

How long does the HPV vaccine work for?

We know the HPV vaccine prevents infection for at least 10 years, but modelling suggests it will last longer. Ongoing studies will show how much longer people will be protected for.

The HPV vaccine and cross-protection

There is some evidence that the HPV vaccine provides cross-protection against other types of HPV. Cross-protection means it protects against HPV types that are not included in the vaccine, meaning it may offer even more protection than first thought.

Research also shows the HPV vaccine could prevent two thirds of cervical cancers in women younger than 30 by 2025. But this will only happen if at least 8 in 10 (80%) people have the HPV vaccine when offered.

Do I need to go for cervical screening if I have had the HPV vaccine?

Although the HPV vaccine protects against 7 out of 10 (70%) cases of cervical cancer, you may get other types of high-risk HPV. Going for cervical screening (a smear test) when invited can help find a high-risk HPV infection or changes to cells (abnormal cells) early, before they develop. 

Read more about cervical screening >

Show references


How we research and write our information >

  1. electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC), www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/19033 [Accessed: April 2018].
  2. electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC), www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/19033 [Accessed: April 2018].
  3. electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC), www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/7330 [Accessed April 2018].
  4. Harper D et al., HPV vaccines – A review of the first decade, Gynaecologic Oncology, 2017.
  5. Brotherton J, Confirming cross-protection of bivalent HPV vaccine, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 2017.
  6. Cuzick J et al., Predicted impact of vaccination against human papillomavirus 16/18 on cancer incidence and cervical abnormalities in women aged 20-29 in the UK., British Journal of Cancer, 2010.




Understand what HPV is and how it is linked to cell changes and cervical cancer.

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Date last updated: 
15 Jan 2020
Date due for review: 
05 Oct 2020
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