About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an annual update on Human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation coverage rates. Coverage rates are reported for males and females in their first, second and third year of secondary school (S1, S2 and S3), and for females in their fourth year of secondary school (S4) in 2021/22.

Main points

  • Coverage of the first dose of HPV vaccine for S1 pupils increased in 2021/22, with overall coverage rates of 73.5%, compared with 52.1% in 2020/21. However there remains a disparity between males and females; female coverage in 2021/22 was 77.5%, while male coverage was 69.6%, a difference of 7.9%.
Image caption Trend in coverage of first dose of HPV immunisation by the end of school years 2014/15 to 2021/22 in Scotland
Chart showing trend in first dose of HPV immunisation from school years 2014/15 to 2021/22. Overall coverage rates have increased compared with last year, although there remains a disparity between male and female coverage. Further details are provided in the accompanying text.
  • By the end of S2, 86.4% of females and 80.9% of males had received the first dose. This was an additional 31.7% for females and 31.3% for males on those who had received the first dose by the end of S1 last year. Among S2 pupils eligible for the second dose in 2021/22, coverage for females was 64.8% (compared to 36.4% in 2020/21) and coverage for males was 58.6% (31.8% in 2020/21).
  • Coverage of the completed course of HPV increased between S3 in 2020/21 and S4 in 2021/22. In Scotland, 77.2% of S3 pupils in 2020/21 had completed the course, rising to 83.9% in S4, a difference of 6.7%.
  • By the end of S4 in each of the deprivation categories, females from the most deprived areas were less likely to receive the second dose of the HPV vaccine compared to females from the least deprived areas (77.5% vs. 89.5%), a difference of 12%.


The school-based HPV immunisation programme aims to help protect both boys and girls from developing HPV-related cancers (including cervical, anogenital and head and neck) later in life. The most common HPV-related 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. The routine eligible cohorts for 2021/22 were S1 males and females (dose 1), and S2 males and females (dose 2). Some pupils from the 2021/22 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 school year 2022/23.

Although schools were not routinely closed due to the pandemic during school year 2021/22, Health Boards have been working to catch up with the backlog in the school programme from previous years and this is reflected in the HPV coverage rates for 2021, which in many cases have not reached pre-pandemic levels.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be November 2023.

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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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