Cervical cancer is always caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many variants of this virus. The HPV vaccine protects against the two variants that together are accountable for 70% of all cases of cervical cancer.

In the year that they turn 13, girls receive an invitation to go for their HPV vaccinations. They are asked to go for the first injection in the first half of the year. In the second half of the year, they are again asked again to go for the second injection. The vaccination works best if you have not yet come into contact with the virus. You can become infected by the virus through sexual contact. So the best time to be vaccinated is before you become sexually active. This is why girls are vaccinated at a young age. The vaccinations are given at Municipal Public Health Services (GGD), and at local Youth and Family Centres (CJG).

The HPV vaccination comprises of two injections to be given with a period of 6 months between injections. The vaccinations are given in the upper arm. The vaccinations are free and not compulsory. The Netherlands’ National Vaccination Immunisation Programme (NIP) uses a vaccine called Cervarix®.

2 injections if you start before your 15th birthday

Since January 2014, two vaccinations are enough for most girls. Research carried out by the manufacturer of the vaccine has shown that two injections of the vaccine protect just as effectively as three injections, if you have the first vaccination before your 15th birthday. If you begin the injections against HPV after your 15th birthday, you will still need three injections. Check the injection counter to see how may injections you will need!

Side effects and monitoring vaccine safety

Worldwide, many girls are vaccinated. Most of the European countries and the VS are carefully keeping track of what the possible side effects of the injections are. The side effects caused by the HPV vaccine are mild and do not last for long. The location where the vaccination is given can be painful, red and swollen. After the vaccination tiredness, headache and aching muscles may occur. The aching muscles can sometimes continue for a few days. You may also develop a temperature. These side effects usually disappear by themselves within one or two days. There have never been any known cases or reports of serious side effects associated with this vaccine. Some symptoms may occur coincidentally shortly after vaccination, but then prove not to be caused by the vaccination. If any unusual or severe health problems occurs after the injection, this must always be reported at the follow-up appointment with the GGD or CJG. They will then pass this information on to Lareb (Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre). You can also directly report health problems to Lareb yourself. They will then investigate if the symptoms are related to the vaccination.