About the HPV vaccine
- Who can get vaccinated: It is best to get vaccinated before you have sex for the first time as this means you are protected before you are first exposed to HPV. You will still benefit from the vaccine if you have had sex.
- Course: Depending on your age, you need 2 or 3 doses.
- Boosters: Boosters are not currently recommended.
- How it is given: Injection in the upper arm.
- Side effects: You may experience mild side effects, such as dizziness, headache or fever.
- Age restrictions: The HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) is suitable for children over the age of nine, and women and men up to the age of 45.
- Additional precautions: Use a condom every time you have sex to reduce the chance of catching HPV as well as other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Women should attend smear tests regularly.
|Doses per course||2 - 3|
|Price per course||£300 - £450|
What is the HPV vaccine?
The vaccine is routinely offered to girls between the ages of 12 and 13 as part of the NHS vaccination programme and is offered for free to girls from age 12 up to their 18th birthday. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that the HPV vaccine should also be given to boys to reduce the spread of HPV. With more than 50% of new cases of HPV-related cancers occurring in women over 40, Superdrug Health Clinics also offers the vaccine for men and women up to the age of 45.
The vaccine protects against the HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. Types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts. Genital warts are benign growths which occur in the genital area. They are not dangerous but they need to be treated, and you can also pass them onto other sexual partners. Once you have been infected, you may remain contagious for life and the warts can recur at any point in life, especially if your immune system is weakened. Types 16 and 18 (and others) are the primary cause of cervical cancer in women and they are also associated with cancers of the vagina, throat, penis and anus.
HPV is an extremely common infection and over three quarters of sexually active women contract it at some point in their lives.
Who is this service for?
Superdrug Health Clinics operate a convenient vaccination service for both women and men. Any women under the age of 45 can use this service, if they would like to start a course of the HPV vaccine or complete a course that was started at school. For men, the vaccination will help prevent against the most common cause of genital warts, and it also protects against some types of cancer. So although the NHS does not routinely offer it for men, it can help protect them from these diseases, and it means that they are less likely to transmit the virus to sexual partners in the future.
Almost everyone can have the HPV vaccine. It is not suitable for pregnant women but it is suitable for breastfeeding women.
You cannot have the vaccine if you are allergic to any of the ingredients:
- Sodium chloride
- Polysorbate 80
- Sodium borate
It is licensed for use in children over the age of 9.
How many doses of the HPV vaccine do I need?
The HPV vaccine consists of two or three doses, which are given by injection. The number of doses you require depends on your age.
Children under the age of 15 require two doses. The second dose should be given 5 - 13 months after the first dose.
If you are 15 or older, you require three doses to be protected. The second dose should be given at least one month after the first. The third dose has to be given at least three months after the second dose. All three doses have to be given within the course of one year.
How is the HPV vaccine given?
The HPV vaccine is given as an injection. The injections are given in the upper arm. Although the vaccine is usually tolerated well, redness and soreness at the injection site may occur.
What is HPV?
The human papilloma virus HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. In many cases, infection does not cause any symptoms, but it can cause genital warts, and even lead to genital cancers, including cervical cancer (the second most common form of cancer in young women).
HPV is transmitted during sexual contact. The infection often clears by itself due to your body’s immune response. In some cases, however, the infection persists and remains unnoticed. In these cases, it could lead to cancerous lesions. HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer and infection with certain types of HPV greatly increases your risk of getting cervical cancer.
The use of condoms reduces your risk of contracting HPV. However, condoms are not 100% effective at preventing HPV infection as the virus can be present on the skin in the entire genital area.
Can I safely have sex without the HPV vaccine?
Condoms can help prevent you catching HPV from infected individuals during sex but they aren’t as reliable as getting vaccinated.
The British Journal of Cancer states that “Most HPV infections of the cervix are asymptomatic and more than 90% of detected infections are cleared within 2 years.”
We recommend you always practice safe sex even after the vaccine as it doesn’t protect against other sexual transmitted infections.
What about Cervical Screening (Smear Tests)?
Don’t forget you will still need to go for your Cervical Screening (smear test) even after vaccination. If you have any symptoms you are worried about, such as abnormal bleeding, we recommend you see a health professional as soon as possible.
Should men get the HPV vaccine?
Although the vaccine is not routinely provided to teenage boys, it is still highly beneficial for young men. HPV is associated with certain types of penile and throat cancer, as well as genital warts. The vaccine will lower your risk of developing these types of cancer while also protecting you from genital warts, a very common sexually transmitted disease. As with women, it is best to get vaccinated early on in life before you have been infected with any type of HPV.
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccination can cause temporary side effects in some patients. Possible side effects include headache, fever, nausea and dizziness. You may also notice some redness, swelling, itching, bruising or redness at the site of injection.
As with other vaccines, we may ask you to remain at the clinic for observation for 15 minutes after the injection has been administered.
Book an appointment
Call our booking line to make an appointment. Our lines are open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm and Sat until 5pm.
During your appointment the nurse or pharmacist will assess whether the vaccine or treatment is right for you.
Get your treatment
Once our health advisor has assessed your needs, you'll receive your vaccination or treatment straight away.