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Dr Chew Ghee Kheng​, Senior Consultant at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group shares on the HPV vaccine.

What is in the HPV vaccine?

Two types of HPV vaccine, Cervarix and Gardasil, are approved for use in Singapore. They offer protection against HPV 16 and 18 – the two major HPV strains responsible for about 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases worldwide.

Gardasil also protects against infection by HPV-6 and HPV-11 – the human papillomavirus responsible for 90 per cent of genital warts.

The HPV vaccine is safe because it is not made from any human papillomavirus. The vaccine is a modified protein that is similar to the shell of the HPV virus. It does not contain any infective agents.

How is the HPV vaccine given?

Three doses of the HPV vaccine are given over a period of six months, with the second dose to be given two months after the first dose and the final dose, six months after the first.

Side effects of the HPV vaccine

Recent studies have shown that the HPV vaccine is safe. Side effects are generally mild and include:

  • Soreness and itching at the injection area
  • Mild fever
  • Headache
  • Dizziness / fainting
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea

If allergic reactions such as breathing difficulty, wheezing and racing heartbeat should occur, seek immediate medical help.

Who will not benefit from HPV vaccine?

The HPV vaccine is not suitable for pregnant women and people who are allergic to yeast or have a bleeding disorder.

“As the HPV vaccine only offers protection against the HPV subtypes that cause 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases, women should continue to go for cervical cancer screening such as regular pelvic examinations and Pap smear tests to rule out other types of cancer-causing strains of the human papillomavirus – and detect any precancerous growths or early signs of cervical cancer,” says Dr Chew.

Singaporeans can use up to $400 from their Medisave to pay for the HPV vaccine which costs about $450 to $600.

Ref: S13