Immunisation and Vaccination

Immunisation stimulates the body’s immune system to protect against specific diseases, including precancerous viral infections.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination

HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection that affects both males and females. HPV is responsible for almost all cervical cancer cases, and a high proportion of other cancers (eg anal, vaginal, penile, cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).

There is currently no treatment for HPV; however, a vaccine, called Gardasil 9, is provided free of charge to boys and girls aged 12-13 through the school-based National HPV Vaccination Program.

Gardasil 9 provides fully vaccinated people with protection against nine types of HPV including:

  • Type 16 and 18, the two types that cause the majority of HPV-related cancers
  • The five next most common HPV types associated with cervical cancer (types 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58)
  • Two non-cancer-causing HPV types (types 6 and 11), which cause 90% of genital warts

Catch up vaccinations are available free of charge for males and females aged up to 19. Males and females aged 20 and older can also benefit from the vaccine but will incur out-of-pocket expenses. Talk to your local immunisation provider or GP.

For women or anyone with a cervix who has ever been sexually active, regular Cervical Screening Tests between 25 and 74 years are still required to help detect cervical cancer early.

Hepatitis B vaccination

In Australia, hepatitis B infection is one of the major risk factors for primary liver cancer. Primary liver cancer is the fastest-growing cause of cancer death, and incidence is also increasing more quickly than other cancers.

Hepatitis B is spread by contact with infected blood, semen and other body fluids. The most common way Hepatitis B is spread is during pregnancy or delivery, from mother to baby.

A Hepatitis B vaccination (HBV) is recommended as part of routine childhood immunisation, and is free through the National Immunisation Program Schedule. The vaccine is also available for adolescents and high-risk adults through state and territory governments.

One in three people with chronic hepatitis B in Australia do not know they have it. Your GP can perform a hepatitis B blood test that can determine whether you:

  • Have chronic hepatitis B
  • Had hepatitis B in the past
  • Have already been vaccinated
  • Need a vaccine to protect you.

If you have chronic hepatitis B, ask your doctor for a referral to a liver specialist. The specialist will help you decide whether you need treatment, and discuss the options with you. Not everyone with chronic hepatitis B will need treatment.

More information

For more information about Hepatitis B, visit Hepatitis Queensland or call Cancer Council on 13 11 20.

The information available on this page should not be used as a substitute for advice from a properly qualified medical professional who can advise you about your own individual medical needs. It is not intended to constitute medical advice and is provided for general information purposes only. See our disclaimer.