The cervical cancer vaccine and regular Pap tests work together to prevent cervical cancer in Australian women.
The cervical cancer vaccine, also known as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, protects against the two types of high-risk HPV that are found in 70% of Australian women diagnosed with cervical cancer.
The cervical cancer vaccine is very effective against the two most common forms of HPV that lead to cervical cancer, but doesn’t protect against all types of HPV. That’s why it’s important for all women who are or have ever been sexually active to continue to have Pap tests every two years.
The vaccine also protects against two types of HPV commonly linked to genital warts.
The cervical cancer vaccine works to prevent infection, but can’t kill the infection once it’s present. That’s why the vaccine is given to girls and young women before they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact.
Since being introduced in 2007, the Australian Government’s HPV vaccination program (Immunise Australia) provides the vaccine to girls aged 12 or 13. In NSW, one of the two cervical cancer vaccines, Gardasil, is given in Year 7 in high school.
Immunisation against the HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 is achieved with a course of three doses over six months. All three doses must be given to ensure the vaccine is effective.