HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine

Human Papilloma Virus

  • Also known as wart virus, or HPV
  • Often spread by sexual contact
  • In New Zealand about 150 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 50 die from it each year
  • Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in women worldwide

HPV is known to cause

  • warts (genital & other areas)
  • cervical cancer
  • other cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum, and mouth/throat

About the HPV vaccine

  • stimulates the body’s immune system to produce antibodies to HPV
  • prevents HPV infection and protects you against cancers and warts
  • represents a significant public health advance
  • these recombinant type vaccines have been used around the world for over 20 years

What is in the vaccine?

  • Gardasil and Gardasil 9 contain HPV virus-like particles (VLPs)
  • They contain no viral DNA, are not live, and cannot cause infection
  • The particles mimic HPV, so that the immune system makes antibodies against the virus
  • The vaccine does not contain preservatives, antibiotics or any human or animal materials

Gardasil & Gardasil 9 vaccine

Gardasil 9 (HPV9) was introduced in New Zealand in Jan 2017.  Its predecessor Gardasil (HPV4) has been used in New Zealand since 2008. Gardasil 9 is replacing Gardasil. Once stocks of Gardasil (HPV4) have run out, those people who started with Gardasil can complete their course with Gardasil 9.

Immunisation with Gardasil 9 can prevent infection with:

  • the seven HPV types that cause 90% of HPV-related cancers
  • the two HPV types that cause 90% of genital warts

Vaccination for Men

  • Gardasil 9 (HPV9) will be used in general practices once stocks of Gardasil have run out. Many people being immunised in general practices in early 2017 will therefore be given Gardasil (HPV4) vaccine.
  • HPV types 16 and 18, which are common to both vaccines, are responsible for around nine out of ten HPV-related cancers in men, which means that for men there is little practical difference between the protection offered by the two vaccines. Both vaccines also protect against nine out of ten cases of genital warts.


  • available free for males and females aged 9 to 26 years (inclusive)
  • includes non-residents under the age of 18

Number of doses required

  • 2 doses (at 0 and 6 months) for those children aged 14 years and under
  • 3 doses (at 0, 2 and 6 months) for those aged 15 to 26 years (inclusive)

Effectiveness of the vaccine

  • Clinical trials show it is highly effective in preventing HPV in young people
  • So far, ongoing studies suggest protection will be long lasting


  • The HPV Immunisation Programme started in New Zealand in September 2008. Over 200,000 girls and young women have been fully immunised against HPV in New Zealand. The overwhelming evidence is that HPV has at least as good a safety profile as any other childhood vaccine.
  • HPV vaccines were first approved by the United States FDA in 2006. Over 165 million doses have been distributed worldwide since then.
  • Further details on safety can be found on the Ministry of Health page below:
    HPV vaccination safety – 11 November 2015

Safety in Pregnancy

The safety of HPV vaccine in pregnancy is unknown. Published data have not found any safety concerns among pregnant women who have been inadvertently vaccinated. If a vaccine dose is inadvertently administered during pregnancy, no intervention is needed. However, once a woman knows she is pregnant it is recommended that the remaining doses of HPV vaccine are delayed until completion of pregnancy.

For more detailed information, see:

HPV immunisation programme (Ministry of Health)

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