Health organisations are urging parents ensure their children receive a potentially life-saving vaccine, as data suggests more than 20 per cent of girls and 30 per cent of boys in Bendigo miss out.
Since the National HPV Vaccination Program was rolled out in 2007, genital warts (which are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV) have almost disappeared among young people, there has been a 93 per cent reduction in the two most serious HPV types, and a 70 per cent reduction in the incidence of pre-cancerous cervical abnormalities in women under 20.
But data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that 70.3 per cent of boys and 78.4 per cent of girls were vaccinated in Bendigo in 2015-16, figures below the state average.
The HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, is provided free in schools for students aged 12 to 13 and involves two injections, six to 12 months apart.
The Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against the nine forms of HPV responsible for about 90 per cent of cervical cancers in women and 95 per cent of all HPV-related cancers in men.
Cancer Council Victoria screening, early detection and immunisation manager, Kate Broun, advised parents that consent forms for the vaccine would be coming home with students within the first month or so of the school year.
"[The vaccine] is extremely important... It does reduce a person's risk of cancer as they get older," she said.
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Some parents, Ms Broun said, elected to have their children vaccinated at an older age instead.
But she said the free vaccine was only available to 12 and 13-year-olds, and it was at this age that the vaccine was most effective.
Ms Broun said students who missed a dose could visit their GP to receive it.
HPV is responsible for almost all cervical cancers, and can cause cancer of the anus, vagina, penis, mouth and throat.
But Ms Broun said there would be further decreases in the cases of such illnesses in the future, thanks to the vaccine. "This is an effective vaccine," she said.
Parents and teenagers looking for further information can visit the HPV Vaccine website or call 13 11 20.