Announcement of the addition of Gardasil 9 to the National Immunisation Program

October 8, 2017



Good morning and welcome to North Bondi Surf Club. We’re surrounded this morning by lifesavers and future lifesavers, and we’re talking today about an important new step in saving lives.

Ian Frazer developed Gardasil, which is a vaccine that has for ten years been made available first to girls 12 and 13, and then from 2013 to boys and what it is able to do is to protect, at a level of 90 per cent, the kids that have been immunised from cervical cancer.

It is an extraordinary development, Australian medical science - it is, so many of those young boys and girls down there will be proofed throughout their whole lives from this virus that is of course the cause of cervical cancer and other cancers as well.

Now we’re making an announcement today of an important new step that will take the level of protection up to an even higher level and that is with the introduction of Gardasil9. Which is a new evolution of the Gardasil vaccine that will protect against additional strains of the human papillomavirus, make it even more effective, providing even greater protection for young Australians and throughout their whole lives.

There is the possibility of eliminating this virus completely through vaccination. It is a great story about the importance of vaccination, the importance of our immunisation programs and I’m proud to be here to make this announcement with the Health Minister, with Ian Frazer, with our Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy and with Caroline Scott, who is a nurse immuniser who will talk about her experience in immunising kids in schools.

So I want to handover now to the Health Minister Greg Hunt, to talk more about this important step, an example of the way in which we are keeping Australians safe and healthy, we are saving lives, the young lifesavers behind us, they’re getting ready to save lives on this beach. What we’re doing with this vaccine, is ensuring we will save thousands of lives for years to come - Greg. 


Thanks very much Prime Minister, Gardasil 9 will save lives and protect lives.

It’s about giving young people the opportunity to have a full, rich life without the risk of cervical cancer and so many other cancers which affect both young women, but also non-cervical cancers that affect young men.

As the Prime Minister said, Ian Frazer has been amazing in bringing to the world along with so many other Australian researchers, Gardasil and now Gardasil 9.

As a dad of a 12-year-old girl, I’m pleased that she will have an even better level of protection as she goes into high school next year, as a Health Minister I’m delighted that Australia will lead the world in the introduction of Gardasil 9.

This is about ensuring that through our national immunisation program, which is a world leading program, we will be able to protect young Australians and indeed as the Prime Minister says, have a real shot at eliminating this virus and to take an Australian discovery and development to the world.

So I am delighted that as of the 1st of January 2018 we will commence the introduction of Gardasil 9 for all young Australians, 12 and 13 throughout the country.


Thanks, Ian.


Today represents a further significant step in the process of getting rid of cancers caused by a virus infection that we now have a vaccine for.

About 30 years ago, my colleague Jian Zhou and I came up with the technology that has enabled these vaccines to be made available worldwide and with the partnership with CSL we were able to turn that technology into a practical vaccine.

About ten years ago, I was privileged to give the first shot of vaccine to the daughter of one of my science colleagues; she was the first to be protected in Australia and the first of over 200 million people worldwide that have now received a vaccine to help prevent cervical cancer.

But the new vaccine will make sure that even more people are protected against cancer, and more importantly those women who have screening for cervical cancer are much less likely to have an abnormal test or need treatment for. So this makes a real difference for the women are being screened, it makes a real difference for the country and it’s a demonstration once again of how medical research really can change lives.

Thank you very much.


Thanks Ian, Caroline do you want to talk about your work as a nurse immuniser.


Yes so I work in Western Sydney, I’ve been immuinising students now for over 14 years and that was during the introduction of the Gardasil vaccine in 2007.

We’ve got an amazing team of nurses and we’re very proud of our work, and we work in collaboration with schools, with education - so its health and education working together.

With this, we’re actually preparing students for later on in life. So we gauge – we really try to encourage our parents to accept the vaccine. We need our coverage rates to be high, because we want the kids to be protected. So we want to-


Tell us what’s the important message you can deliver to 12 and 13 year olds, but above all their parents when they get that consent form that comes home from the school?


To get vaccinated, basically.


Explain it to their kids, and give the consent.


Explain, so sit down, read the information, sign the consent form, take it back to school.

But probably more importantly on the morning of vaccination parents need to give their child a good breakfast and let them have a positive attitude. So that’s what they need, and we will look after the rest.


That’s great Caroline. Brendan – you’re the Chief Medical Officer. Do you want to just say a little bit about the importance of the National Immunisaiton Program, and the commitment we’ve made through ‘No Jab, No Pay’, really pull court press to ensure we get the benefits of herd immunity through the community.


Thanks Prime Minister.

The National Immunisation Program we now spend $460 million nationally with a large range of vaccines all throughout life, our vaccination rates now well in the 90 per cent since we’ve had huge improvements over the last twenty years.

We have a fantastic partnership with the states and the Commonwealth where Commonwealth funds the vaccines on the program and the states, as we’ve heard from our colleague here administer the vaccines.

We have seen the disappearance of killing diseases, polio doesn’t exist in Australian anymore, measles endemically doesn’t exist, although as we’ve seen recently we can have imported cases from overseas. A whole range of viruses and bacteria which cause devastation and serious injury  have now been got rid of through the National Immunisation Program.

It’s just a huge success story, and I just encourage every parent, every Australian, vaccination is safe, it saves lives.

Vaccination is one of the most wonderful lifesaving developments in western medicine.

Thanks Prime Minister.


Thank you very much, and just a word perhaps Ian, perhaps you could just say a word about the prevalence of cervical cancer and the impact that we’re seeing over time from Gardasil?


Cervical cancer kills about a quarter of a million women worldwide every year. In this country, the data that has been collected since the vaccine has been introduced show that there’s been an about 90 per cent reduction in the pre-cancer that would require to be treated surgically amongst women that have been vaccinated.

So that basically this vaccine is working exactly the way we would expect it do, and there’s a real prospect that over time the viruses that cause the cancer will disappear from the community and the cancer will go to.


That’s fantastic, well thank you very much and congratulations to the Minister and Ian, and Chief Medical Officer and our immuniser, nurse immuniser and we’d be happy to take some questions.


What are the major differences between the vaccine we’ve got now and this version we’re going to see rolled out next year?


Well it deals with more strains, but Ian perhaps you could explain how most of the problems are created by a couple of strains of HPV, but there are a number of others and just explain how the new vaccine works?


The papillomavirus comes in about 200 different flavors if you like, but only ten of them contribute to cancer. The vaccine that we have at the moment protects against two of those ten, and those two together are responsible for about 75 per cent of the cancers.

This new vaccine adds in further strains which are responsible for most of the other 25 per cent, so that by giving the vaccine that we now have it will be possible to protect against almost all cervical cancers.

I should point out that those people who have already had the current vaccine are well protected by that vaccine and so long as they carry on doing the recommendation of the government, which is that they should continue to get screened for cervical cancer through the program that’s available at the moment, they will be fully protected.

But in the future, the nine (inaudible) vaccine is going to make it even easier to protect.


Prime Minister inevitably there will be parents who will resist this and won’t get their children vaccinated, what’s your message to the anti-vaxxers, I mean as a –


Well our message is precisely the one that Greg’s just given, and I have and the Chief Medical Officer have and we all have.

Vaccination is vitally important, it’s not just important for your child, it’s important for everybody else’s child.

You need to get vaccination up to a very high percentage to achieve that herd immunity. So those people who decide not to vaccinate their children are not only putting their own children at risk but everybody else’s at risk too.


Prime Minister US President Donald Trump has this morning tweeted “in relation to negotiating with North Korea, sorry but only one thing will work”, what do you think he means by that?


Well I’ll just repeat what I’ve said before, that the best way of ensuring that this reckless, dangerous, criminal regime comes to its senses without military conflict is to continue to impose strong economic sanctions on North Korea.

Now I’m pleased to say that the global community is united in that, you’ve seen China in particular which has the greatest leverage over North Korea, committing to the latest round of UN Security Council sanctions, which include a restriction on oil imports into North Korea.

So, what we need to do is to continue to put that economic pressure as a global community on North Korea, and that is the best prospect of resolving, of changing, this regime from its dangerous and reckless course, without conflict.


Prime Minister, how confident are you about the high court’s decision on dual citizenship?


Very confident.


So do you have plans for a bi-election and would you support a bi-election if-


Well I’ve said we are confident based on the advice we have from the Solicitor-General - that the court will find that Senators Canavan and Nash and the Deputy Prime Minister are not disqualified from serving in the Parliament.

So that’s the advice that we’ve received, that’s the submission that’s been made but of course it will be determined by the court. There will be a hearing sitting on it this week.


Why’s it necessary to have the power to lock up children as young as ten without charge?


Well it’s very important to remember that children - there’s actually no change here by the way - I’m very disappointed to see Mark Dreyfus crab walking away from what we were told by his leader was a bipartisan commitment to keeping Australian’s safe from terrorism.

Now under our criminal law, children can be charged with committing crimes, as you know. What the 14-day detention arrangement does is it enables when police are investigating terrorism offences to detain, to arrest somebody, whether they are a minor or an adult, to detain them for questioning before they are charged. It is subject to judicial supervision, by magistrate and it is – what this will do is standardise it across the country.

All the Premiers and Chief Minsters agreed with it, its been recommended with our police commissioners around the country. This is very, very important tool that we are giving our police, our security agencies to keep us safe from terrorism.

There’s no place for set and forget, there’s no place for complacency. We have to be ever vigilant and resolute in keeping Australians safe.

And I’m sorry that Mark Dreyfus is trying to walk away from that commitment, but I hope that Bill Shorten will pull him back into line.

We need an absolute united front, a full court press in giving our police the means they need to keep us safe, this is a very important reform and as you saw at the COAG meeting last week it had universal support.


Prime Minister are you concerned about allegations that a large number of postal votes have been damaged in recent elections, and then declared void?


I’ve had no information to that affect at all – none at all.

The postal survey on same-sex marriage is being conducted very well, by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as you know there is a very high participation rate which is already over 60 per cent and that is much higher than many of the critics said.

Our political opponents, Bill Shorten in particular didn’t want Australians to have their say, he did everything he could to prevent Australians having their say and what this survey has demonstrated, that Australians did want to have their say and they’re having their say. And I’d encourage anyone who has not returned their postal survey to do so.

Have your say, most people already have but there’s many people who haven’t. So have your say, get it back, it’s up to you how you vote, Lucy and I have voted ‘Yes’.


Just quickly, are you anticipating it’s going to be harder to pass things through without Nick Xenophon?


We respect every member of the Senate, and every Member of the House too of course. But every member of the Senate from whatever party they’re from. We’re often told by experts in the media that we can’t get legislation through. Haven’t we Greg?

We’ve often been asked, said why won’t you admit you can’t get something through? And you know something? If you talk to people, respectfully, if you make your case, if you’re prepared to compromise you can get a lot done. And we have got an extraordinary amount of legislation through the Senate since the election.

How many people said we were be in office but not in power? Quite a lot. We’ve got more legislation through in the not quite 18 months since the last election than we did in the whole three years of the previous parliament, so we’re getting thigs done and I’m confident that whatever, whoever, when Nick retires from the Senate, whoever replaces him, will work with the new Senator just as we have with all those that are there today.

Thank you all very much.


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