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HPV Vaccination

Science has come a long way and one of the best things about it, is that it has given us the ability to prevent and eradicate a wide range of diseases through vaccines. One such vaccine, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer – the 10th most common cancer diagnosed in women in Singapore[1].

What is the HPV vaccine?

HPV is a group of viruses made up of 100 different strains and can infect both males and females throughout their lifetime. HPV infection is spread through skin-to-skin contact such as sexual contact. Most of the time, our immune system can kill and eradicate an HPV infection, however, sometimes an HPV infection can linger and lead to abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, leading to cervical cancer. 

HPV strains can be categorised into high-risk strains (more likely to cause cancer) and low-risk strains (less likely to cause cancer). High-risk HPV strains have been associated with various types of cancers such as cervical cancer, vaginal, and vulvar cancer in women, and anal and penile cancer in men. Other HPV strains may result in genital warts or no symptoms at all. 

The HPV vaccine helps to protect against the high-risk cancer-causing HPV strains.


How does the HPV vaccine work?

There are two types of HPV vaccines currently approved for use in Singapore, these are Cervavix and Gardasil 9
Cervavix Gardasil 9
Protection against HPV types 16, 18 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, 58
Approved indications Prevention of cervical cancer and premalignant cervical lesions caused by HPV types 16 and 18. Prevention 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 HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. Prevention of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11.
Approved age of use Females aged 9 to 25 years old, or as advised by doctor. Females aged 9 to 26 years old, or as advised by doctor.
Vaccination schedule Females aged 9 to 14 years old: 2 doses, 5 to 13 months apart. Females aged 15 to 25 years old: 3 doses, 2nd dose 1 to 2.5 months after first dose, 3rd dose 5 to 12 months after first dose. Females aged 9 to 14 years old: 2 doses, 6 to 12 months apart. Females aged 15 to 26 years old: 3 doses at 0, 2, and 6 months.
Effectiveness  Protects against HPV types 16 and 18 which accounts for 70% of all cervical cancers. Suitable for females. Provides additional 20% protection against both high-risk and low-risk cancer causing HPV strains. Suitable for both males and females.
Adapted from HealthHub: https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/701/faqs-on-hpv-and-hpv-immunisation 
HPV Vaccine

Who needs the HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is not compulsory but is recommended for the following individuals:

  • All females from the ages of 9 (males can also be vaccinated using Gardasil 9).
  • Those who have not had sexual intercourse as the vaccine is most effective if given before first sexual exposure.
  • Those who are sexually active, as they may not have been exposed to HPV yet.

Benefits of the HPV vaccine

  • Non-invasive
  • No downtime
  • Helps to prevent various cancers, such as cervical, vaginal, and anal cancer

What are the possible complications or risks of the HPV vaccine?

As with all vaccines, some individuals may experience mild side effects such as:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling at site of vaccination
  • Fever
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Headache 
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea
  • Muscle or joint pain


National Registry of Diseases Office. (2022). Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2019. Singapore: Health Promotion Board.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Is the HPV vaccination 100% effective?
    No, vaccines do not provide 100% protection.
  2. Do I still need to go for cervical cancer screening if I have the HPV vaccine?
    Yes, HPV vaccines do not protect against all cancer-causing HPV strains. Regular screening (pap smear every 3 years aged 25-29 years old and HPV test once every 5 years aged 30 years and above) is still recommended to protect you against cervical cancer.
  3. Can I be vaccinated while I am pregnant ?
    No, the HPV vaccine is not recommended during pregnancy. If you are found to be pregnant while in the middle of your vaccine cycle, your subsequent doses will be postponed until after delivery.
  4. Can boys be vaccinated with the HPV vaccine?
    Yes, currently only Gardasil 9 has been approved for use in males.

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