The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a widespread virus that can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. Over 200 strains of HPV exist, and while most cause no harm and clear up on their own, certain types can lead to serious health problems. These particular strains of HPV are responsible for almost all cervical cancers, as well as some vaginal, vulvar, anal, and head and neck cancers.

The good news is that the HPV vaccine offers a powerful defence against these threats. This vaccine is particularly effective when administered at a young age, which is why the NHS (National Health Service) in England provides free HPV vaccination to girls aged 12-13 in school year 8.

Why Get Vaccinated in London?

  • Enhanced Protection: The NHS (National Health Service) in England provides free HPV vaccination to girls aged 12-13 in school year 8. This two-dose regimen offers excellent protection against HPV infection when received at this young age. However, the vaccine is also beneficial for both males and females up to age 26 who missed it earlier. In these cases, the recommended schedule is usually three doses.
  • Reduced Cancer Risk: HPV is responsible for a significant portion of cervical cancers, accounting for nearly all cases. Vaccination significantly reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer, a cancer of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. In addition to cervical cancer, HPV can also cause vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, and anal cancer. Furthermore, some head and neck cancers, particularly oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the tonsils and the back of the throat), are also linked to HPV infection. HPV vaccination substantially reduces the risk of developing these cancers as well.
  • Safe and Effective: The HPV vaccine has undergone rigorous testing and clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants. These trials have conclusively demonstrated the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness in preventing HPV infection and subsequent HPV-related cancers. Real-world data from countries with widespread HPV vaccination programs further reinforces these findings. Side effects from the HPV vaccine are typically mild and short-lived, such as soreness or redness at the injection site. These minor discomforts are far outweighed by the long-term health benefits of HPV vaccination.

Getting Vaccinated in London

  • Talk to Your GP: Your Private GP in London is an excellent resource for information and vaccination. They can address any concerns and ensure the vaccine is suitable for you.
  • School Programs: Check with your school if HPV vaccination is offered during year 8. If you missed it, speak to the school nurse about catching up.
  • Private Clinics: Several private clinics in London offer HPV vaccination services for a fee. Here are some examples:
    • Fleet Street Clinic: Fleet Street Clinic offers the HPV vaccine to individuals aged 12 to 45. They provide consultations to discuss the suitability of the vaccine and answer any questions you may have.
    • Hampstead Heath Pharmacy: Hampstead Pharmacy offers the 9-valent HPV vaccine to individuals aged 9 and above. They accept appointments online or by phone.
    • Medical Express Clinic: Medical Express Clinic offer HPV vaccination in London to those aged 12 and above. They have multiple locations across London, making it convenient to find a clinic near you.

 

Why HPV vaccination is important

HPV vaccination can prevent up to 90% of cervical cancers, which is the most common cancer caused by HPV in women. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide, and the second most common in low- and middle-income countries. In the UK, about 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and about 850 die from it.

HPV vaccination can also prevent other types of cancer that are less common but still serious, such as anal, penile, head, neck, and throat cancers. These cancers can affect both men and women, and are often diagnosed at a late stage, making them harder to treat. HPV vaccination can reduce the risk of these cancers by up to 80%.

HPV vaccination can also prevent genital warts, which are caused by low-risk strains of HPV. Genital warts are not life-threatening, but they can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and difficult to treat. They can also increase the risk of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). HPV vaccination can prevent up to 90% of genital warts.

By getting vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself, but also your sexual partners and the community. HPV vaccination can reduce the transmission of HPV and lower the overall prevalence of the virus.

Where to get the HPV vaccine in London

There are different ways to get the HPV vaccine in London. You can choose the option that is most convenient for you.

  • If you are a child aged 12 to 13 (school year 8), you can get the vaccine at your secondary school or community clinics if you are not in school. You will need your parent’s or guardian’s consent to get the vaccine. You can check with your school nurse or school vaccination team for more information.
  • If you are a girl under 25 or a boy born after 1 September 2006 who missed having the vaccine at school, you can get the vaccine at your GP surgery. You will need to make an appointment and bring your NHS number with you.
  • If you are a man under 45 who has sex with men, or another person at higher risk of HPV, you can get the vaccine at sexual health clinics or HIV clinics. You can find your nearest clinic on the NHS website or by calling 111. You do not need an appointment or a referral to get the vaccine at these clinics.
  • If you are not eligible for the free vaccine, you can still get the vaccine privately at some pharmacies or travel clinics. You will need to pay for the vaccine, which can cost between £150 and £200 per dose. You can find a list of providers on the Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor website or the Boots Pharmacy website.

Peace of Mind for a Healthy Future

HPV vaccination is a crucial step towards safeguarding your health. By getting vaccinated, you significantly reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, anal cancer, and some head and neck cancers. The HPV vaccine is an investment in your long-term health, offering peace of mind and protection against a range of preventable cancers. Vaccination is particularly important for young people, as it is most effective when administered before exposure to HPV. However, even if you missed getting vaccinated at school, the HPV vaccine can still be beneficial for adults up to age 26. Talk to your doctor or explore the NHS and school programs available in London. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, and HPV vaccination is a powerful tool for preventing HPV-related cancers and genital warts.

Conclusion

HPV vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from HPV-related cancers and genital warts. It is safe, effective, and widely available in London. If you are eligible for the vaccine, do not miss this opportunity to stay protected. Get vaccinated today and enjoy a healthier and happier future.