An immunisation is available to girls and young women in New Zealand to help protect them from cervical cancer.
It protects against infection from 4 types of HPV:
- 2 high-risk types (16 and 18) that cause 7 out of 10 cervical cancers
- 2 low-risk types (6 and 11) that cause 9 out of 10 cases of genital warts.
The vaccine causes the body’s immune system to produce its own protection (antibodies) against these 4 HPV types.
The vaccine also helps to protect against less common cancers, such as vaginal and other genital cancers and some mouth and throat cancers that are caused by HPV infection.
The immunisation is expected to provide long-lasting protection. As studies are ongoing, the exact period of protection is unknown. So far, they show that 8 years after the immunisation, protection remains high with no sign of weakening.
Cervical smears are still necessary
Women who have had the HPV immunisation still need to have regular cervical smears. The vaccine doesn’t protect against all the types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Go to Cervical smears for more information on cervical screening. Together, HPV immunisation, cervical screening and practicing safe sex offer the most effective protection against cervical cancer.