HPV Vaccination Programme in schools

There are 3 vaccines offered to children in their first year of secondary school to protect them from infectious diseases.

These are the:

All the vaccines given in the schools' immunisation programme are free.

Giving COVID-19 vaccines with vaccines included in the schools immunisation programme

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) say that other vaccines can be given with COVID-19 vaccines. A gap is not needed between COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccines offered as part of the school vaccination programme.

If other vaccines are being given at the same time as COVID-19 vaccines, if possible they should be given in different limbs.

HPV vaccine for girls and boys

The HPV vaccine has been offered to girls in their first year of secondary school since 2010. This is because the most common cancer caused by the HPV virus is cervical cancer which only affects women.

Since September 2019, boys have also been offered the HPV vaccine. This is because HPV can cause cancers and genital warts in boys too.

The more young people vaccinated - both boys and girls - the better we can control the spread of the infection.

Conditions caused by HPV infection

In girls, HPV infection can cause cancer of the:

  • cervix
  • vulva (the area surrounding the opening of the vagina)
  • vagina
  • anus
  • oropharynx (part of the throat at the back of the mouth)

In boys, HPV infection can cause cancer of the:

  • anus
  • oropharynx (part of the throat at the back of the mouth)
  • penis

HPV infection can also cause genital warts in both girls and boys.

Read more about the cancers caused by HPV that can affect boys.

Vaccine dosage

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) have updated their advice about the number of HPV vaccine doses young people need to receive.

People with healthy immune systems now only need one dose of HPV vaccine.

The reason for this change is that recent scientific evidence did not show a big difference in the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine in people with healthy immune systems, aged 9 to 24 years, who received one, two or three doses of the HPV vaccine

HSE school vaccination teams will visit schools twice in students' first year of secondary school.

Boys and girls will get 3 injections in total, over 2 different visits:

  • Visit 1 from the end of September: HPV vaccine and Tdap vaccine.
  • Visit 2 from Feburary: MenACWY vaccine.

One vaccine is given in each arm.

Vaccine dosage for people with a weak immune system (immunocompromise)

The NIAC recommend that people who have a weak immune system due to:

  • - having medical conditions such as HIV infection, haematopoietic stem cell or solid organ transplant recipients, malignant haematological disorders affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic systems, non-haematological malignant solid tumours, or primary immunodeficiency)
  • - Taking certain medications that really reduce the strength of their immune system

will need to get 3 doses of the HPV vaccine.

If you think that you or your child may need to get 3 doses of the HPV vaccine because of having a weak immune system, please speak to the Specialist Doctor or Consultant treating you. They will be able to discuss with you if you need 3 HPV vaccine doses (more information for your doctor is available here). You should also speak with the HSE vaccination team and let them know about your discussion with your doctor.

 

Record of vaccination (immunisation passport)

On the day of vaccination, your child will need to give their immunisation passport to the school vaccination team. The team will add your child’s vaccination details to the immunisation passport and give it back to them so they can bring it home.

If you do not have an immunisation passport, a member of the immunisation team will give one to your child after they have been vaccinated.

Why first-year students get the HPV vaccine

We offer the HPV vaccine to first-year students in secondary school. This is to protect children from HPV before adulthood and likely exposure to HPV.

The vaccine is most effective in young people between 12 and 13 years old compared with older teenagers and young adults.

If your child is being home-schooled, contact your local health office to get them vaccinated.

The HPV vaccine is long-lasting

Since being licensed after 8 years of development the HPV vaccine has been studied for 16 years. Research to date has shown that the vaccine protection does not weaken over time.

Experts expect protection to last for much longer. This will continue to be studied as new data becomes available every year.

 

What happens if a student is absent from school and misses their vaccination?

The student can get an appointment for a mop‐up clinic to be held at the end of the period of school vaccination clinics.

Please contact your local school vaccination team to arrange an appointment.

HPV vaccine for older boys and girls

The Laura Brennan HPV Vaccination Catch-Up Programme will be available until the end of December 2023. This catch-up programme will provide a once only opportunity for those who did not get the HPV vaccine when they were offered it in the past, to get vaccinated.

Read more about the Laura Brennan HPV Vaccination Catch-Up Programme.