About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland provides an annual update on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation uptake rates. Uptake rates are reported for males and females in their first year of secondary school (S1), and for females in their second, third and fourth year of secondary school (S2, S3 and S4) in 2019/20.

These statistics are affected by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak as some NHS Boards had not completed their planned immunisation sessions when schools closed in March 2020. Around two-thirds of the 2019/20 HPV immunisation programme in Scotland was completed by the end of the school year.

Main points

  • By the end of the school year, 82.5% of all S3 females (85.4% in 2018/19) and 87.3% of all S4 females had completed the two dose course of HPV immunisation. This is the first year that uptake rates for S4 females are reported.
  • Most of these pupils would have been immunised in previous school years when they were first offered the vaccine. These uptake rates include vaccinations given in 2019/20 in mop-up immunisation sessions for pupils who had missed a dose.
Image caption Trend in completed course HPV immunisation uptake rates for S3 females in Scotland; School years 2010/11 to 2019/20
Line graph showing the trend in uptake of a completed course of HPV immunisations from 2010/11 to 2019/20 among girls in S3 in Scotland. Uptake rates of the full course of HPV immunisations (previously three doses, now two doses) have exceeded 80% since the programme began.
  • Although uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine was over 90% by the end of S4 in all deprivation categories, females from the most deprived areas were less likely to receive the second dose compared to those from the least deprived areas (84.3% vs. 91.6%).
  • Uptake of the first dose among those S1 females offered the vaccine in 2019/20 was 85.8% (compared to 85.1% in 2018/19).
  • This was the first year that S1 males were offered the immunisation; uptake among those offered the first dose was 78.7%.
  • By the end of S2, 88.5% of all S2 females had received the first dose. This was an additional 3.4% on those who had received the first dose by the end of S1. Among S2 females offered the second dose in 2019/20, uptake was 77.6% (compared to 77.9% in 2018/19).


From 1 August 2019, the HPV immunisation programme in Scotland was extended to adolescent boys, with the vaccine offered to every pupil in their first year of secondary school (S1), regardless of gender. The school-based HPV immunisation programme aims to help protect both boys and girls from developing HPV-related cancers later in life. The most common HPV-induced cancer is cervical cancer.

The routine HPV immunisation schedule is two doses of vaccine to complete the full course, typically given in S1 and S2. Eligible pupils who have not started or completed their course of immunisations are given other opportunities to be vaccinated in S3 and S4. While no specific target for uptake of HPV immunisation in Scotland was set, the expectation was that uptake of 80% or more should be achieved for the routine programme.

The timing of the HPV immunisation sessions during the school year varies slightly between NHS Boards. This meant when schools in Scotland closed from 20 March 2020, some NHS Boards had completed their planned HPV immunisation sessions in schools, while some had started holding sessions shortly before the school closures, or had not started. Four out of the fourteen NHS Boards in Scotland completed their HPV immunisation programme by the end of the school year. The routine eligible cohorts for 2019/20 were S1 males and females (dose 1), and S2 females (dose 2). Uptake rates for these cohorts are based on the sub-set of pupils who were offered the vaccine in 2019/20. The other uptake rates reported are based on all pupils.

Some pupils from the 2019/20 eligible cohorts who were not immunised in the period reported, may have since been immunised, with the remainder expected to be offered the vaccine during a catch-up planned in school year 2020/21.

Further information

Find out more in the full report. The data from this publication is available to download from this page. For more information on HPV immunisation see the immunisation section of the Data and Intelligence website (external link) or visit the immunisation pages on NHS Inform (external website). For related topics, please see the child health pages on the Data and Intelligence website (external link)

The next release of this publication will be in November 2021.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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