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Immunisation against human papillomavirus (HPV) has been available under Australia’s National Immunisation Program since 2007 and is highly effective in preventing infection with HPV. HPV causes cancers in both men and women, particularly cancer of the cervix (in females), other anogenital cancers and certain cancers of the mouth and throat (in both males and females).
Australia has been a world-leader in showing the benefits of HPV vaccination. Multiple studies have shown large declines in both genital warts and pre-cancerous cervical lesions in young Australian women targeted by our vaccination program. Because the development of cancer typically takes many years to occur after HPV infection first happens, this impact will be even greater in years to come.
HPV vaccine’s safety has been demonstrated in many Australian and international studies. Mild reactions such as pain and swelling at the injection site are common, but self-resolve quickly. Many well-conducted epidemiological studies have shown that there is no increased risk of serious illness among people who have had HPV vaccine compared to those who have not. The World Health Organization (WHO), the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in the USA, and many other peak groups around the world continue to strongly recommend the HPV vaccine.
Notwithstanding the vaccine’s excellent safety profile, fringe ideological groups opposed to HPV vaccination have recently disseminated information about the HPV vaccine that is slanted and misleading. These groups include the American College of Pediatricians, who are known to have a socially conservative political agenda that borders on the extreme. This group (of about 200 members) should not be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that represents 64,000 paediatricians in the USA and that strongly recommends use of the HPV vaccine.
Other anti-vaccination proponents have also issued statements suggesting that a range of conditions are linked to HPV vaccination. These assertions have been robustly refuted by leading medical, regulatory and scientific organisations.
When considering HPV vaccination, it is important to review information from trusted and credible sources. NCIRS meets WHO criteria for providing credible vaccine safety information and is a member of the WHO Vaccine Safety Net. A summary of the safety and effectiveness of the HPV vaccine and information about the national HPV vaccination program in Australia can be found in the NCIRS HPV fact sheet and NCIRS HPV FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sheet. Both are comprehensive documents, which present up-to-date information from peer-reviewed scientific journals and credible websites.
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We acknowledge that the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance (NCIRS) is on the land of the traditional owners the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Australians, and recognise their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. Together, through research and partnership, we aim to move to a place of equity for all. NCIRS also acknowledges and pays respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations from which our research, staff and community are drawn.
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We acknowledge that the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) is on the land of the traditional owners the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the First Australians, and recognise their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. Together, through research and partnership, we aim to move to a place of equity for all. NCIRS also acknowledges and pays respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations from which our research, staff and community are drawn.