What is HPV?
HPV is the abbreviation for human papillomavirus. This is a highly contagious virus that can lead to six kinds of cancer. HPV can cause cancer in the mouth, throat, penis, anus, vagina, labia and cervix. This virus usually does not cause any symptoms, but it is very easy to pass on. That means someone who has HPV can accidentally infect someone else.
Eight out of ten people will be infected with HPV one or more times in their lives. Luckily, not all of them will become ill. In almost all cases, your body will get rid of the virus all on its own. But sometimes the virus does not go away completely. In those cases, you could develop cancer 10 to 15 years later. It is estimated that in the Netherlands, 1,100 women and 400 men develop cancer as a result of HPV each year.
HPV vaccination offers effective protection
The HPV vaccine protects against six kinds of cancer. HPV vaccination is most effective if you get it before you are infected with the virus. Two vaccinations will be enough to protect you for a longer period of time.
Girls in the Netherlands have now been receiving the HPV vaccine for over 10 years. This has allowed RIVM to carry out extensive research, which shows that vaccination offers between 80% protection against long-term infection with HPV type 16 and 95% protection against HPV type 18. Types 16 and 18 are the most common causes of HPV-related cancers. By getting vaccinated yourself, you also help to protect others against HPV.
The vaccine is safe
In the Netherlands, over 1 million girls and boys have now been fully vaccinated against HPV. No serious side effects are known. There might be a little pain at the injection site or sore muscles in that arm. Occasionally, people have a stomach-ache, nausea, headache or fever. All of this passes within 1 to 3 days. Serious and chronic side effects have never been found.
Some parents worry that their child could develop chronic fatigue after vaccination. Media reports suggesting this have appeared in the past. However, it is now known that girls who have had the HPV vaccine do not experience chronic fatigue any more often than unvaccinated girls. This has become clear from research carried out in the Netherlands, the UK and Norway.
Boys can get the vaccine too
Boys can get infected with HPV just like girls. At a later age, boys can then develop cancer of the mouth, throat, penis or anus. That is why boys can now also get vaccinated. The vaccine will protect them against HPV and significantly reduce their future risk of cancers caused by HPV.
Vaccination for boys and girls is free
HPV vaccination is part of the Dutch National Immunisation Programme and free of charge. In the year boys and girls turn 10 years old, they will receive an invitation to get vaccinated against HPV.
Vaccination for people between 18 and 27
If you are between 18 and 27 years old, you can make an appointment to get both vaccinations in 2023 free of charge. Getting vaccinated is only free of charge for this group during the one-off catch-up campaign this year. Because there must be at least five months between the two necessary doses of the vaccine, young people are called on to take action swiftly.
- Simply make an appointment at www.hpvafspraak.nl, using your DigiD.
- No DigiD? Make an appointment by calling 0800-1608.