Human Papilloma Virus
Each year, all 12-13 year old girls on the Isle of Man are offered the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination to help protect them from cervical cancer in the future. By having this routine vaccination, girls will be protected against the two strains of HPV that cause over 70% of cases of cervical cancer in the UK, in addition to a further two strains of HPV that cause around 90% of genital warts.
What can I expect?
During the school summer holidays, a letter explaining the vaccination programme will be sent out to all parents or guardians of girls aged 12-13 across the Island. This will be accompanied by a consent form and leaflet providing further information about the virus and answers to some frequently asked questions. You can also download this leaflet.
It is vital that this consent form is completed and returned to the Public Health Directorate, as without it your child will be unable to receive the vaccination as scheduled.
Two doses of the vaccine are required for full protection and these are provided in-school during year 8. The first vaccination session will normally be held in in the Autumn term, with the second in the following Spring term. In both cases, the vaccinator gives the vaccination in the upper arm.
What if I missed these vaccinations?
All girls that completed year 8 without having the vaccinations will be offered the opportunity to receive them in year 9. A letter and consent form will be sent during the summer holidays, which should be completed and returned even if you do not wish your child to be vaccinated (there is an option to decline consent).
It is also possible to be vaccinated at a later stage. However there are a few points to note here:
- Girls starting the vaccinations past year 9 will not be contacted routinely; girls and their family or guardian should contact Public Health.
- Girls starting the vaccinations aged 15 years or older require three doses of vaccine.
- Girls starting the vaccinations from 18 years of age are not eligible for the NHS free vaccination.
What is the Human Papilloma Virus and how does it spread?
The Human Papilloma Virus is very common and you catch it through intimate and sexual contact with another person who has already has the virus. Many people will get infected and in most women it does not cause cervical cancer; their immune system will deal with it. However, some women’s immune systems cannot clear it and the infection remains ‘hidden’, reactivating in later life as cervical cancer. Having the vaccine is important because we do not know who is at risk of actually going on to develop cervical cancer when they have had the HPV infection.
Around 3,100 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. Overall, about 2 out of every 100 cancers diagnosed in women (2%) are cervical cancers, and it is the most common cancer in women under 35 years old (source: Cervical Cancer UK).
The HPV vaccine protects against the two types that cause most cases (over 70%) of cervical cancer. However, because the vaccine does not provide protection against all of the other types, cervical screenings (tests that pick up early signs of changes in the cervix) will still be needed when older.
Is the vaccination safe?
Yes, tens of millions of doses of HPV vaccine have been given to girls worldwide. Like most vaccinations, side effects can occur but these are usually mild such as soreness and swelling in the arm. More serious side effects are extremely rare.
Frequently asked questions
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about HPV and the vaccination programme. If your question is not answered in the booklet, please contact the Public Health Directorate on +44 1624 642639 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.