Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine

September 2008

Following recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (a committee which advises UK health departments), the government introduced the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination for all females aged 12 and 13 in England.

In 99% of cases, cervical cancer occurs as a result of a history of infection with high-risk strains of HPV. The HPV virus is common and is spread by sexual activity.

The vaccination was seen as controversial in some quarters, due to the age of the girls targeted by the vaccination programme.

A catch-up programme was also introduced for vaccinations to be provided to all other girls up to the age of 18.

Following the introduction of the vaccine for girls, there were repeated calls for boys to be given the HPV vaccine because of the link between HPV and head, neck and penile cancers. In 2018, the government introduced two new national HPV vaccination programmes: one for men who have sex with men and one for all boys aged 12 to 13.


HPV vaccine overview [webpage].
NHS; 2019.

Department of Health and Social Care.
HPV vaccine to change in September 2012.; 2011.

The Guardian.
Boys 'should receive HPV jab too'.
The Guardian; 2014.

HPV Sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations.
Minutes of the meeting 20 Jan 2014.
Department of Health and Social Care; 2014.