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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.

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)
  • vaginal
  • anus
  • throat
  • head and neck

In boys, HPV infection can cause cancer of the:

  • anus
  • throat
  • penis
  • head and neck

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

Boys and girls will get 4 injections in total, 2 at each visit:

  • Visit 1 in September: HPV vaccine (dose 1) and Tdap vaccine.
  • Visit 2 from February: HPV vaccine (dose 2) and MenACWY vaccine.

One vaccine is given in each arm.

The HSE school vaccination programme may need to be done in a different venue or may be delayed because of Covid-19. The HSE will try to keep these changes to a minimum. There is no requirement to restart the HPV vaccine schedule if the schedule is interrupted because of Covid-19. You cannot take your child to their GP for vaccines given by the HSE school vaccination teams.

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 9 and 15 years old compared with older teenagers and young adults.

If you choose to wait until your child is older to get vaccinated, you will need to do this through your GP at your own cost.

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

The HPV vaccine is long-lasting

The HPV vaccine has been studied for over 14 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.

People over 15 getting the HPV vaccine

People over 15 need an extra dose of the HPV vaccine for full protection.

If your child is over 15 when they get their first dose of the HPV vaccine, they will need 3 doses rather than 2. 

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

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 HPV girls only schools vaccination programme closed at the end of the 2019/2020 academic year. Anyone not in 1st year of secondary school or age equivalent in special schools or home schooled during 2020/2021 school year who wish to get the HPV vaccine, must go to their GP or sexual health clinic and pay for the vaccine and its administration privately.

Any student in first year of second level school in the 2019/2020 school year who had opted into the programme, but missed their second dose due to school closures will be offered an appointment to compete the course.

If you have left secondary school

If you have finished secondary school, talk to your GP to get vaccinated at your own cost.