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HPV vaccination: parents' rights

All girls and boys are offered the HPV vaccine routinely when they are 12-14 years old – that is when they are in years 8 and 9 at school.

The HPV vaccine reduces the risk of developing some cancers later in life, such as:

  • cervical cancer
  • some mouth and throat cancers
  • some cancers of the anus and genital areas

The HPV vaccine does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections.

Why will my child be offered the HPV vaccination before they’re 16?

The virus that causes cervical cancer, some mouth and throat cancers and cancers of the anus and genital areas is called human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV infection is spread by skin to skin sexual contact or having sex with another person who has the virus. So it’s natural that, as a parent, you may question why the HPV vaccine will be given to your child before they reach the age of consent at 16.

While most young people don’t start having sex until they’re 16 or older, it’s best for them to be vaccinated a few years earlier so they get the most benefit from the vaccine.

If the HPV vaccine is given after a young person has become sexually active, it’s possible they may already be infected with the virus, and it’s therefore too late for the vaccine to fully protect them.

What if my child doesn’t want the HPV vaccination?

A consent form has to be completed before a young person can be vaccinated. So they don’t have to have the HPV vaccine if they don’t want to. However, it’s worth making sure they’ve thought things through. The HPV vaccine has a good safety record and will protect them against cervical cancer for many years.

Suggest they speak to the nurse or doctor if they want more information, on their own, or with you if they’d prefer.

Read more about HPV vaccination.

What if my child wants the vaccination, but I’d rather they didn’t have it?

The decision to have the vaccine is legally your child’s, as long as they understand the issues in giving consent. Discuss this with your child, the doctor or nurse to get more information.

Last Updated: 13/03/2023 13:48:07
The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website