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
  • head and neck
  • 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 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 from the end of September: HPV vaccine (dose 1) and Tdap vaccine.
  • Visit 2 from March: HPV vaccine (dose 2) and MenACWY vaccine.

One vaccine is given in each arm.

School teams are restating clinics for school vaccinations from the end of September. The school teams know what students need to get their vaccines and will contact parents and guardians to offer vaccines to students. 

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 you choose to wait until your child is older and finished first year of second level school to get vaccinated, you will need to arrange the vaccination 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

Since being licensed after 8 years of development the HPV vaccine has been studied for over 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.

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

In May 2022, the Minister for Health announced he instructed the HSE to provide plan for a catch up programme for eligible boys and girls who missed their vaccines due to COVID-19 and a catch up programme for older females. 

The HSE is finalising the plan for the Minister. More information will be available soon.