The HPV vaccine brings on some uncertainty due to the fact that it’s relatively new. Who should get it? Is there a specific age by which one can obtain the HPV vaccine in Singapore? Is it just for girls or does it bring universal benefits for everyone?
If you’re considering getting the vaccine yourself or vaccinating your children, you need to know the answers to these questions. The most important thing to understand is that HPV vaccination is crucial for everyone and not just girls.
Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most prominent cause of cervical cancer – one of the most common cancers for women in Singapore. Vaccines can prevent infections with some of the common strains of the virus.
The two approved Singapore HPV vaccines are Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil offers protection against four strains of the HPV virus – 6, 11, 16 and 18 while Gardasil 9 protects against 9 strains (6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58). Cervarix protects against the two most high risk varieties when it comes to cancer – 16 and 18.
When we’re speaking of cervical cancer, you probably assume that the HPV vaccine is only tailored to the needs of women. This isn’t the case. In fact, HPV can cause cancer in men, as well.
HPV infections are incredibly common among both men and women. Anywhere between 30 and 40 strains of the HPV virus can infect the genital area. Some of these cause genital warts in men and women, some cause cervical cancer and less commonly – HPV can increase the risk of penile cancer in men.
Sub-types 16 and 18 cause approximately 70 per cent of all cervical cancer cases. The 6 and 11 strains of the virus contribute to 90 per cent of genital warts cases. Once an infection occurs, the virus itself cannot be treated. It’s up to the immune system to clear the infection on its own. This happens in approximately 90 per cent of cases.
People who should consider HPV vaccines include those at an early age. Ideally, the first dose should be administered among boys and girls aged 11 and 12. A second dose of the vaccine also has to be administered anywhere between six and 12 months from the administration of the first dose.
Children who are vaccinated after they turn 15 will need three shots delivered at intervals of six months.
Those who are not vaccinated and are under the age of 26 may also want to consider the vaccine. In such instances, it’s important to talk to a doctor before moving forward with the vaccination. People who are older than 26 will experience a limited array of vaccine benefits due to the fact they may have been exposed to HPV already.
Why Do Boys Need the HPV Vaccine?
The HPV vaccine in Singapore is readily available but why should the parents of boys consider it for their kids?
New evidence suggests that the HPV vaccine is as crucial for boys as it is for girls. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV causes 34,800 new cancer cases in the US each year. Of these, 20,700 affect women and 14,100 – men. In men, the most common types of cancer caused by HPV include cancer of the mouth and cancer of the throat. The transmission occurs most often through oral sex, meaning that the genital area isn’t the only one that can potentially be affected by the virus.
Some evidence suggests that HPV could also spread through activities like kissing but more research will be required to confirm such claims.
As you can see, thousands of men get cancer from HPV. Yet, most awareness campaigns focus on cervical cancer and the importance of vaccinating girls. It is still a public perception that HPV is a predominantly female problem. A change in mindset is very important to protect boys and men from the various risks connected to a viral infection.
How Effective Are the HPV Vaccines?
Continuous research demonstrates the fact that the two most popular varieties of HPV vaccines (the ones available in Singapore) are safe and effective.
Till present day, more than 270 million doses of HPV vaccines have been administered across the world. Studies show that side effects are very limited and most people tolerate the vaccination well.
There is only a small group of people who should not be vaccinated. These people include individuals that may be sensitive or allergic to any of the vaccine components, people who suffer from moderate or severe infectious illness and people who suffer from bleeding disorders/ individuals on anticoagulation therapy.
If you’re looking for a chance to get the vaccinated against HPV, Shim Clinic is a STD clinic that has you covered. We offer both Gardasil and Cervarix vaccination according to the schedule approved for the respective age group.
Don’t hesitate to contact us or visit the clinic during working hours to find out more. We’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have and offer counselling before the administration of the HPV vaccine.