An updated vaccine that will protect recipients against almost all cervical cancers will be given free to Australian students.
The federal government has approved Gardasil 9 to be given to 12- and 13-year-olds from 2018.
The improved vaccine will protect recipients against nine strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), instead of the current four, and prevents 90 per cent of the virus strains that contribute to cervical cancer.
The vaccine also offers protection against anal, vulvar and throat cancers caused by HPV, as well as genital warts.
“The new vaccine will make sure that even more people are protected against cancer,” vaccine co-creator Professor Ian Frazer told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.
“More importantly, those women who have screening for cervical cancer are much less likely to have an abnormal test they’ll need treatment for.
“There’s a real prospect that over time, the viruses that cause the cancer will disappear from the community and the cancer will go too.”
Prof Frazer said the existing vaccine already protected against HPV strains responsible for about 75 per cent of cervical cancers.
“By giving the vaccine that we now have, it will be possible to protect against almost all cervical cancers,” he said.