Background teacher notes


HPV vaccine - information for parents/teachers




Information for parents and teachers on the human pappilomavirus vaccine which is administered to students in Year 7


  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is called Gardasil®9.

  • This vaccine is available for all students to protect against some of the most common types of HPV.

  • The vaccine provides best protection when it is given to someone before they become sexually active.

  • Latest scientific and medical evidence shows that one dose of HPV vaccine gives excellent protection. 

  • From 6 February 2023, Year 7 students (aged 12-13 years) will only require one HPV vaccine to be fully vaccinated.


Who should have the vaccine?

People of all genders should have the HPV vaccine, preferably before they become sexually active.

From 6 February 2023, healthy young people aged 12-13 years will only need one dose of the Gardasil®9 vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. This change follows the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advice that a single dose gives excellent protection that is comparable to protection from two doses.

Healthy young people who receive a single dose before 26 years of age will not need further doses.


What are the benefits?

  • The HPV vaccine protects against strains of HPV that are sexually transmitted.

  • Almost all cervical cancers are linked to HPV infection.

  • HPV vaccines are critical to eliminating cervical cancer.

  • Vaccination also protects against genital warts and HPV related genital, anal and throat cancers.

Since the introduction of the national HPV vaccine program in 2007, data available up until the end of 2015 shows there has been a more than 90 per cent reduction in genital warts among Australian-born women and heterosexual men aged 21 years or younger attending sexual health clinics. In 2015, the proportion of people diagnosed with genital warts in both these groups was less than 1 per cent.

The HPV vaccine provides protection against nine types of HPV including: 

  • types 16 and 18, the two types that cause the majority of HPV-related cancers

  • the five next most common HPV types associated with cervical cancer (types 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58)

  • two non-cancer-causing HPV types (types 6 and 11), which cause 90% of genital warts.

HPV-related cancers include almost all cancers of the cervix, and some cancers of the anus, vulva, vagina, penis and throat. 

The HPV vaccine is not effective against an HPV infection that is already in the body, so it is best to vaccinate before potential exposure to the virus. 

The HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. It is important for women and people with a cervix to have regular cervical screening even if they are fully vaccinated.


How is the vaccine given?

The Gardasil®9 vaccine is delivered via a free school-based program to students in Year 7 in Western Australia.

Consent must be provided by a parent or guardian for their child/ren to receive vaccinations at school. Parents and guardians are encouraged to provide consent online via VaccinateWA (external site).

If parents and guardians are not able to access the online system, they can request a hard copy form from school or print a copy of the school-based immunisation program consent form. More information about consent and the school-based immunisation program is available on HealthyWA

If students missed their vaccination at school, they can receive a catch-up vaccination from another immunisation provider such as at community immunisation clinics, or at participating GPs, pharmacies or Aboriginal Medical Services. Those who missed out on their HPV vaccination where they were first eligible can catch-up until 26 years of age. Please note, some immunisation providers may charge a consultation fee. 


What are the risks?

The HPV vaccine is safe and well tolerated. Around the world millions of doses have been given. The vaccine does not contain live HPV virus, but instead contains a protein that helps the body’s immune system fight HPV infection.

Common side effects

Common side effects  can be treated with a cold pack or paracetamol if needed. They include:

  • pain, redness and swelling at the injection site

  • a temporary small lump in the spot the injection was given

  • low grade fever

  • feeling unwell

  • headache

  • fainting may occur up to 30 minutes after any vaccination.

The common side effects can be reduced by:

  • drinking extra fluids and not overdressing if you have a fever

  • placing a cold wet cloth on the sore injection site.

Reporting an adverse event

The Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance (WAVSS) System is the central reporting service in WA for any significant adverse events following immunisation.

If you have experienced an adverse reaction to a vaccine:


More information

Where to get help

  • For emergency or life-threatening conditions, visit an emergency department or dial triple zero (000) to call an ambulance

  • See your doctor

  • Visit a GP after hours

  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222


This Background Note relates to the following Learning Activities: