The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme for girls was introduced in 2008, on the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the expert body that advises the Government on all immunisation matters. The aim of the programme is to prevent cervical cancer related to HPV infection.
When the routine programme was introduced in 2008, a catch-up programme was also rolled out to offer the vaccine to women up to age 18 years. This was also based on advice from the JCVI that the catch-up, as well as the routine programme, would be cost-effective.
The JCVI also noted that 'catch up' vaccination for women aged 18 to 25 years was not cost-effective at the vaccine price considered and, on this basis, did not advise the routine vaccination of women beyond the age 18. In 2015, the JCVI revisited the issue and noted that the cost-effectiveness of a catch-up programme for women above 18 years who had not received the vaccine was considered unlikely to be cost-effective. On this basis, we do not have any plans to offer HPV vaccine routinely to women aged 18 and over at this time. Clinicians are however able to offer vaccinations outside of the national programme to women at high risk using individual clinical judgement.