Cervical Cancer Vaccine
Cervical cancer is the 10th most common cause of cancer deaths in Singaporean women and 6 women die from this condition every month.
The most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV can be spread from one person to another during skin-to-skin contact.
There are more than 40 types of HPV that can infect the genitals or sex organs of women and men. HPV can affect anyone, whether married or single.
Early stages of cancer can often be asymptomatic. The most common symptoms are abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after sex or menopause, bleeding and spotting between periods and longer or heavier menstrual periods than usual.
Some of you would have heard the recent news about our Government introducing an opt-in program to ensure all girls from Secondary 1 would be covered for this important vaccine.
Singapore has picked the second oldest of three HPV vaccines on the market, Cervarix, which has protection against HPV viruses strain 16 and 18 that account for 70% of the cervical cancers.
We offer Gardasil 9 and Cervarix injections in our clinic too to young women. In fact, Gardasil 9 has just been launched in Singapore since 1 Apr 2017 and it is the best available vaccine proven to show improvement (Petrosky et al. 2015) in the protection against cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, anal cancer and genital warts.
In addition, Singapore Cancer Society (SCS) is complementing the upcoming Healthier SG initiatives by strengthening efforts to encourage more to go for their cancer screening and HPV vaccinations. To increase the uptake of the HPV vaccination, SCS, together with Temasek Foundation (TF), launched the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programme in 2022 to educate ladies on HPV, cervical cancer and the importance of HPV vaccination. This programme, which has been extended to 29 April 2025, will now fully cover the out-of-pocket costs of low-income women receiving the Cervarix HPV vaccine. This amounts to S$23 per jab (after government subsidies) over the course of three injections over 12 months.
The new programme, implemented by SCS, will cover women between 18 and 45 years and benefit those from lower-income families. To qualify for the programme, you have to be:
- A Singapore citizen
- A holder of the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) Blue or Orange card
- A woman aged 18 to 26 years, who has not started HPV vaccination yet
- A woman aged 27 and 45 years, who has already received one dose before turning 26, but did not complete the course
Can the risk of cervical cancer be Reduced ? Yes
Get vaccinated for females aged 9 to 45 years old
|Common HPV types||Types of cancers|
|6 & 11||90% of genital warts cases|
|16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 & 58||95% of cervical cancer cases
90% of vulvar cancer cases
85% of vaginal cancer cases
95% of anal cancer cases
What is the difference between Gardasil 9 and Cervarix?
|Gardasil 9||Cervarix (Goverment’s initiative)|
|HPV types covered||6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 & 58||16 & 18|
|Protection against cancer/genital warts||+++||+|
|Injection timings||3 injections: 0, 2, 6 mths||3 injections: 0, 1, 6 mths|
1. How does the vaccine work?
It gives your body related antigens so that the body can detect and kill it the next time it meets the same virus. Even if you have already caught one of the subtypes of the virus, the vaccine will still be effective against many other strains. This is why it is still effective even after sexual exposure.
Regular cervical cancer screening (known as Pap smear) is encouraged for all females aged 25 to 69 years, who have ever had sex and have not done a cervical Pap smear screening in the last 3 years.
2. What if I don’t belong to the above age and gender group?
The HPV vaccine can still benefit women above 26 years old, though to a smaller extent. In Singapore, you can only use Medisave for the vaccine up to and before your 27th birthday.
This vaccine is also highly recommended in males as well in the prevention of genital warts and cancer. It can also protect your spouse.
3. What are the possible side effects?
Pain, swelling and redness are common side effects which last usually for a few days only.
Headache, fever and nausea are less common but they are often short-lived as well.
Severe allergies are very rare and can be treated immediately.
4. Can I take it during pregnancy?
We will tend to wait until the end of your pregnancy to complete the injections. Fret not if you are pregnant during the course, the vaccine can be delayed.