Preventing HPV infection: HPV Vaccination

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine or HPV vaccination significantly reduces a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer, one of the most common cancers for women in Singapore. Learn more here.

/sites/assets/Assets/Categories/Sexual%20Health/shutterstock_322889855.jpg?Width=616&Height=275


About HPV and Its Link To Cervical Cancer

What is HPV?

  • HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, a common virus that can infect many parts of the body in both males and females. 
  • There are more than 100 different strains of HPV, grouped into (i) high-risk types (may cause cancer) and (ii) low risk types (non-cancer causing).
  • About 40 HPV strains can infect the genital area.
  • High-risk strains of HPV are associated with cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancer in women, and less commonly, anal or penile cancer in men. The most common high-risk strains are HPB subtypes 16 and 18.
  • Low-risk strains of HPV may cause no symptoms or lead to genital warts. HPV types 6 and 11 are responsible for about 90% of genital warts.
  • Other HPV strains may infect the skin of the fingers, hands, mouth, throat and face.

How is HPV related to Cervical Cancer?

  • Certain types of HPV can infect the cervix (the lower part of the womb), vagina and vulva. In most cases, the body's immune system can fight off the infection and clear the virus.
  • However, the HPV infection can persist sometimes and cause abnormal changes to the cells. Some of these abnormal cells may develop into cervical cancer. This usually takes years to develop, but is one of the most significant impacts of being infected with HPV. 
  • Specifically, HPV subtypes 16 and 18 account for about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.

What are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer?

Risk factors for development of cervical cancer include the following:

  • HPV subtypes - Persistent infection with high-risk strains.
  • Immune status - People who are immunocompromised, such as those living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), are more likely to have persistent HPV infections and a more rapid progression to pre-cancer and cancer.
  • Co-infection with other sexually transmitted agents, such as those that cause herpes, simplex, chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
  • Multiple sexual partners.
  • Onset of sexual intercourse at an early age.
  • Tobacco smoking.

How is HPV transmitted?

  • HPV infection is very common in men and women.
  • It can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact such as sexual activity (including oral sex), by sharing contaminated sex toys and very rarely, during delivery from an infected mother to her baby.
  • HPV cannot be spread by sitting on toilet seats or touching common surfaces.

What are the signs and symptoms of a HPV Infection?

  • Most HPV infections do not have any signs or symptoms. 
  • Some HPV infection may cause genital warts, but they can also cause oral HPV infections such as warts in the mouth or throat or oropharyngeal cancers. 
  • High-risk HPV infection of the cervix does not cause any signs and symptoms. The abnormality on the cervix is detectable by cervical screening (Pap test) and by HPV DNA (genetic material) tests.
  • Symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal vaginal bleeding such as bleeding after menstrual periods or after sex. There may also be changes in the amount, colour or smell of the vaginal discharge.

Can HPV be treated?

  • No treatment is required for asymptomatic HPV infections.
  • Most HPV infections (90 percent of the cases) are cleared by the body without the need for treatment.
  • Treatment is directed at HPV-associated conditions such as pre-cancerous lesions, cancer or genital warts.
  • Although HPV virus cannot be treated, regular cervical cancer screening tests can either help to detect changes in the cervical cells caused by HPV infection (Pap test) or to identify high-risk HPV cancer-causing strains.

How can I best protect myself against a HPV infection and decrease my risk of getting Cervical Cancer?

  • Go for regular cervical cancer screening as it is the most effective way to detect abnormal changes in the cervical cells and cervical cancer.
  • All women aged 25 and above who have ever had sex should have either a Pap test once every three years (for women 25 to 29 years old) or a HPV (or HPV DNA) test once every five years (for women 30 years and above).
  • All females aged 9 - 26 are strongly recommended to get the HPV vaccination to prevent cervical cancer.   
  • Even if you have received the HPV vaccination, it is important that you still go for regular cervical cancer screening as the HPV immunisation only protects against 70 to 90 percent of high-risk HPV strains.

Where can I go for a Cervical Cancer screening?

  • Females can get screened at their family doctor's clinic, selected Screen for Life (SFL) CHAS GPs or at a polyclinic. Do call your clinic and check if they offer cervical cancer screening services.
  • You can also call 1800 223 1313 for more information on cervical cancer screening and cervical cancer.

About the HPV vaccine

What is the HPV vaccination?

The HPV vaccination can help to protect against specific types of HPV infection that may lead to cervical cancer. The benefits of HPV vaccination are maximised when given before one starts any sexual activity.

 What Are the Available HPV Vaccines in Singapore?

  • The vaccines approved for use in Singapore are Cervarix and Gardasil 9.
  • Details of the vaccinations are shown in the table below.

 

CervarixGardasil 9
Protect against the following HPV subtypes16, 186, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58
Approved indicationsPrevention of cervical cancer and premalignant cervical lesions caused by HPV types 16 and 18Prevention of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancer caused by HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58

Prevention of dysplastic, premalignant cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal lesions caused by types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58

Prevention of genital warts caused by types 6 and 11
Approved age for useFemales aged nine to 25 years old, or as advised by your doctor.Females aged nine to 26 years old, or as advised by your doctor
Vaccination schedule

Females aged nine to 14 years old

Two dose, five to 13 months apart

 

Females aged 15 to 25 years old

Three doses:

Second dose at 1 to 2.5 months after the first dose

Third dose at five to 12 months after the first dose

Females aged nine to 14 years old

Two doses, six to 12 months apart

 

Females aged 15 to 26 years old

Three doses at 0, 2 and 6 months

 

Cervarix provides protection against HPV types 16 and 18, which account for 70% of all cervical cancers, and have been shown to be both clinically- and cost-effective in the local setting for females. Gardasil 9 provides protection against an additional 20% of cancer-causing HPV types. It is clinically effective for both males and females.

Who are the HPV Vaccines for?

  • The vaccines are approved for clinical use in males and females aged 9 to 26 years old (depending on the specific vaccine being administered). In Singapore, Cervarix is licensed for use in females only and Gardisil 9 is licensed for use in both males and females.  
  • HPV vaccination is recommended on the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) for all females aged 9 – 26 because of the cost effectiveness and significant impact of the vaccine in the prevention of cervical cancer. Males are not included in that recommendation, although they may still choose to get vaccinated.  
  • The vaccines are most effective if given before first sexual exposure, in those who have not yet been exposed to the HPV types covered by the vaccine 
  • Those who are sexually active may still benefit from the vaccine, as they may not be exposed to the HPV subtypes covered by the vaccine.  
  • If you are above 26 years old or if you are a male aged 9 and above and wish to receive the HPV vaccination, you are advised to speak to your doctor to find out if it may benefit you.  

Who should NOT be Vaccinated?

The HPV immunisation vaccine may not be suitable for you if:

  • you are sensitive to yeast or any of the vaccine components.
  • you have a moderate or severe acute infectious illness (please wait until you have recovered from the illness).

Consult your doctor to find out if a vaccination is suitable for you.

I have a young child. Should they be vaccinated?

  • The vaccine is strongly recommended in Singapore for females aged 9 to 26 (Cervarix and Gardisil 9) who wish to prevent HPV infection and the risk of developing cervical cancer. It is also available to males aged 9 – 26 (Gardisil 9 only) who wish to get vaccinated to prevent HPV infection and complications associated with viral infection.
  • The vaccine is recommended for females aged 9 to 26 years old (depending on the specific vaccine being administered).
  • The vaccines are most effective in protecting against the selected HPV subtypes if they are given prior to exposure of HPV.
  • It is advisable to speak to your doctor to find out more about the HPV vaccination.
  • Once you have understood the benefits, risk and limitations of the vaccines, the decision to proceed with the HPV vaccine is a personal one.

Is HPV vaccination compulsory?

No, the HPV vaccination is not compulsory in Singapore, but it is highly recommended as a way to protect women against cervical cancer. HPV vaccination has also been included in the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS) and National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) for the target population of females aged 9 to 26. It is not included in the schedule for males, although it is licensed for use and available to males who wish to protect themselves from HPV infection too.

How long does the vaccine protection last?

  • Current evidence shows a sustained protection against vaccine-targeted HPV-related diseases in long-term follow-up studies for the HPV vaccines.
  • There is currently no recommendation for additional doses or booster shots.

Are the vaccines safe and effective?

  • Clinical trials and post-marketing surveillance have shown that HPV vaccines are safe and effective in preventing infections with selected HPV subtypes.
  • The vaccines do not contain any live viruses or infectious material. This means you cannot become infected with HPV from the vaccines.

Are there any HPV vaccine side effects?

  • Pain, swelling, itching redness at the site of injection and fever are some common side effects — consult your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.

Are vaccines completely effective for HPV prevention?

  • No. As with any vaccination, HPV vaccinations do not guarantee a 100% protection.
  • HPV vaccinations are not substitutes for routine cervical cancer screening. Women who have received vaccination are still encouraged to continue going for Pap tests once every three years (if you are between 25 to 29 years old) or HPV test once every five years (if you are 30 years and above).

I have been vaccinated for HPV. Should I still go for Cervical Cancer screening?

  • Yes. You should go for a Pap test once every three years (if you are between 25 to 29 years old) or HPV test once every five years (if you are 30 years and above).
  • Cervical cancer can be caused by other HPV subtypes which the vaccines do not protect against. In other words, the HPV vaccines do not protect against all cancer-causing HPV subtypes.
  • As such, regular screening is still your best protection against cervical cancer.

I am pregnant/breastfeeding. Should I be vaccinated?

  • HPV vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women.
  • If a woman is found to be pregnant during the HPV vaccination schedule, it is recommended that the remaining dose(s) of the series should be postponed until after delivery.
  • If the HPV vaccine has been administered during pregnancy, please consult your doctor for further evaluation. Usually no further intervention is required.
  • Available data is not sufficient to assess the effects of HPV vaccination on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion. You may wish to discuss this with your doctor.

Where can I get the HPV vaccine?

You can receive HPV vaccination at a polyclinic, CHAS GP clinic or any medical clinic which carries the HPV vaccine. Under the National School-based HPV Programme, HPB offers fully subsidised HPV vaccinations to eligible Secondary 1 and 2 female students attending MOE-registered secondary schools, Special Education (SPED) schools, Privately-Funded Schools and full-time Madrasahs. It is advisable to speak to your doctor to find out more about HPV vaccination.

I was diagnosed with a cervical abnormality that my doctor said may lead to cervical cancer (e.g. "Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia" or CIN). Should I get the HPV vaccine?

It is best to consult your doctor who will advise on the suitability of the HPV vaccine for you, and also check how often you should be going for Pap or HPV tests.

Is HPV vaccination for boys included in the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS)?

HPV vaccination for boys is not included in the NCIS. Based on the recommendations by the Expert Committee on Immunisation (ECI), HPV vaccination is recommended only for females aged nine to 26 years old under the NCIS/NAIS. It is advisable to speak to your doctor to find out more about the benefits and limitations of vaccinating your son against HPV.

About subsidies and MediSave use

Which vaccine type is subsidised and how was it selected? What is the cost of the subsidised HPV vaccine? Can MediSave be used?

Female Singapore Citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs) who fall within the recommended age group for HPV vaccination will be able to enjoy subsidies and use MediSave for Cervarix. The HPV vaccine eligible for subsidy and MediSave use was selected while taking into consideration factors such as the local disease burden, vaccine safety, clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the vaccines.

Please refer to the table below on the subsidies available, MediSave use and additional discounts provided by Temasek Foundation.

HPV 2 (Cervarix)Subsidies availableMediSave-claimableTemasek Foundation HPV Immunisation Programme in partnership with Singapore Cancer Society (1 January to 30 October 2022)

Female Singapore

Citizens (SCs)

Yes

At both CHAS GP clinics and polyclinics

Yes

At both CHAS GP clinics and polyclinics

Yes

Remaining co-payment is fully funded for eligible CHAS Orange and Blue cardholders at participating CHAS GP clinics.

Programme is not implemented at polyclinics.

FemalePermanent Residents (PRs)

 

Yes

Only at polyclinics

Yes

At both CHAS GP clinics and polyclinics

No

Eligible SCs will be able to enjoy subsidies at CHAS GP clinics and polyclinics, while eligible PRs will be able to enjoy subsidies at polyclinics only.

At CHAS GP clinics, eligible SCs can expect to pay no more than $45 per dose after subsidies for HPV vaccination. CHAS Orange and Blue cardholders should strongly consider receiving the HPV vaccination at CHAS GP clinics participating in Temasek Foundation's HPV Immunisation Programme, where the remaining patient's co-payment will be fully funded, subject to meeting the nationally recommended criteria for HPV vaccination. Click here to learn more.

For all nationally recommended vaccinations, including HPV vaccination, MediSave can be used to offset the remaining co-payment, if any. Individuals are advised to contact their preferred healthcare provider directly for their eligibility for subsidies, the costs of vaccinations, and the use of MediSave.


pic
Get Our App

One-stop access to all your health services and records.

701
Preventing HPV infection: HPV Vaccination

 Catalog-Item Reuse