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How does the HPV vaccine work?

The HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) is made from tiny proteins that look like the outside of the real human papillomavirus (HPV).

It also contains Aluminium, Sodium Chloride (salt), water, L-histidine, Polysorbate 80 and Borax, to stimulate the immune system and keep the vaccine stable and suitable for injection. You can read more about the vaccine on this product information sheet.

The vaccine does not contain any live virus, or even killed virus or DNA from the virus, so it cannot cause cancer or other HPV-related illnesses.

When the vaccine is given, the body makes antibodies in response to the protein to clear it from the body.

If a person is then exposed to the real virus, the same antibodies can prevent it from entering the cells of the body and creating an infection (immunity).

Watch this video to learn more about how the vaccine works.


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When the vaccine is given, the body makes antibodies to fight new HPV infections.

Design and partial content reproduced with the kind permission of the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

The HPV vaccine is a prescription medicine. Medicines have benefits and risks. After reading this website, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of this vaccine and to check eligibility.

Females who have had the HPV vaccine still need regular Cervical Screening Tests.