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COVID-19 and the HPV vaccine

This information is for professionals working in immunisation or cervical health. It covers the key facts about HPV vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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School disruption

School disruption may affect the vaccination programme. As we all know, schools have been subject to closures and other restrictions throughout 2020. These have had an impact on the routine vaccination programme for children in Year 8. The Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended maintaining immunisation programmes as far as possible – but some changes may be in place. 

Prioritisation

The first dose of the HPV vaccine will be prioritised. The HPV vaccination is given in 2 doses, usually spaced between six and 24 months apart. The JCVI has advised prioritising the first of these 2 doses. This includes making sure girls and boys who missed the first dose due to school closures ‘catch up’ and have the vaccine as soon as possible. 

Intervals between doses

The second dose of the HPV vaccine may be given later than usual. It’s important for young people to complete the full programme of 2 doses. But the available evidence suggests even 1 dose will still give good protection, at least in the short to medium term.   

You can reassure young people and their parents that evidence shows a delay in the second dose is unlikely to affect the vaccine’s effectiveness. 

Who shouldn’t have the HPV vaccine

Someone with a fever shouldn’t have the vaccine. That’s the case whatever the suspected reason for the fever. This guideline is to make sure that a fever due to illness isn’t confused with a response to the HPV vaccine. If someone is due to be vaccinated, they need to delay until the fever has passed. 

Anyone with potential COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and not have the HPV vaccine. These guidelines apply to anyone with the main symptoms, which are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss of or change to the sense of taste or smell

If someone has these symptoms, they need to stay at home until they’ve been tested and had the results back. If they were due to have a medical appointment, including for vaccination, they need to postpone until they’ve had a negative COVID-19 test and self-isolated for the recommended time.  

Attitudes to the HPV vaccine >

Read about common attitudes towards the vaccine and how to address them.

Our COVID-19 hub

We cover the impact on COVID-19 on cervical screening, colposcopy and cancer services.

Visit the hub
Date last updated: 
05 Feb 2021
Date due for review: 
01 Feb 2024
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