Is the HPV vaccine safe?
Yes, the HPV vaccine is safe, rigorously tested and its ongoing safety is actively monitored.
The HPV vaccination has been offered continuously under Australia’s National Immunisation Program since 2007.
A program review published in 2021 found that HPV vaccines are safe and effective in Australia. You can read the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance’s (NCIRS) position statement about the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety reviews all data about vaccines and has repeatedly declared HPV vaccines safe for use. You can read more about WHO’s position on HPV vaccines.
Over 500 million doses of HPV vaccine have been distributed worldwide. This includes more than 110 million doses of Gardasil®9, which is the HPV vaccine used in Australia.
Gardasil®9 was studied in more than 13,000 people before it was registered for use. The original HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) was tested on more than 20,000 females in 33 countries and 4000 males in 18 countries before it was approved for use.
What are the side effects of the HPV vaccine?
Side effects after receiving the HPV vaccine are usually only very mild. The reactions that people have had after the HPV vaccine are similar to reactions from other vaccines which include pain, redness and swelling at the site of the injection.
These symptoms occur in about four in five cases and should go away quickly. They can be treated with an ice pack or paracetamol if needed.
People are monitored for 15 minutes after having the HPV vaccine. If an allergic reaction, or more rarely a more serious allergic rection called anaphylaxis, does occur, it can be treated quickly and successfully. Every immunisation provider is trained and equipped to deal with such a reaction.
For every million doses of the vaccine given, there are only about three cases of anaphylaxis. This is a similar rate for other vaccines given to children.
All health problems that occur after vaccines are monitored on an ongoing basis in Australia and internationally. This is to establish whether they were caused by the vaccine or occurred coincidentally around the time of vaccination.
You can read the latest active monitoring data for HPV vaccines (where parents report side effects in real time vis SMS).
For this reason, it's important to report any reactions you have after having the HPV vaccine to the person who gave you the injection or to your doctor.
HPV vaccine and fertility
The HPV vaccination does not cause infertility. In 2019, the World Health Organization’s Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety concluded that there was no association between HPV vaccination and infertility or primary ovarian insufficiency.
Who shouldn’t have the HPV vaccine
You shouldn’t have the HPV vaccine if you:
- have a yeast allergy
- are pregnant (however research has shown no significant effect on you or your baby if you receive the vaccine and later find out you are pregnant)
- have a bleeding disorder
- have had anaphylaxis (serious allergy) to a previous dose of the HPV vaccine or any of the vaccine ingredients.
Parents should note reactions to any previous vaccination or medicine on the consent form when they return it to their child's school.
If you're having the vaccine, make sure you tell the person giving you the injection about any reactions you've had to vaccines or medicine before.