Vaccinations In Singapore
What exactly are vaccinations?
Vaccinations are a key component in the prevention of disease. They provide adequate protection from certain diseases.
While there are different types of vaccines that may or may not be necessary for you based on your needs, there are specific vaccines that everyone should receive. Frequent travellers especially are recommended to have more rigorous vaccination regimes as they may be potentially exposed to more diseases.
Since everyone’s vaccination requirements are different, we recommend that you discuss your vaccination history and requirements with your doctor.
What type of vaccinations are there in Singapore?
The most common vaccinations administered today in Singapore are:
- Yellow Fever vaccine
- Flu vaccine
- Hepatitis A and B vaccine
- HPV (9-valent) Vaccination
- Varicella vaccination
- Tdap vaccination
- MMR vaccination
- Pneumococcal vaccine
Yellow Fever Vaccine
The Yellow Fever vaccine protects against Yellow Fever, a viral infection carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Yellow Fever can be contracted in Central and South America and on the African Continent; all travellers including Singaporeans who enter Singapore from high risk areas are required to have the vaccine.
Symptoms of yellow fever are:
- Muscle pain
In severe cases (15% of patients), persons who contract Yellow Fever may experience organ failure and internal bleeding that may be fatal.
The Yellow Fever vaccine should be taken by persons who are over the age of 9 months and live or travel to Yellow Fever endemic regions. It is a single dose vaccine which provides lifelong protection for most people and should be taken at least 10 days before you travel to an infected area. Often countries require proof that you have been vaccinated on entry.
Flu (Quadrivalent) Vaccine
The flu vaccine significantly lowers your risk of contracting influenza.
- Sore throat
- High fever
- Muscular aches and pains
- Respiratory complications
This virus is airborne and spread by tiny droplets from an infected person in close proximity. The flu can intensify if the patient develops ear or sinus infections, pneumonia, heart muscle inflammation and meningitis. Other susceptible individuals include the elderly, young, pregnant and immunocompromised.
It is recommended that the flu vaccine is taken every year. It is just a single dose and can be done at most local GPs and polyclinics in Singapore.
Hepatitis A Vaccine
Simply put, Hepatitis A is a viral disease that causes liver inflammation. The disease is transmitted when an unvaccinated individual ingests food or water that has been contaminated by an infected person’s excretion.
Hepatitis A is intricately linked to poor sanitation, food and water contamination and unsatisfactory hygiene.
- Abdominal pain
- Pale coloured stool
- Tea coloured urine
- Loss of appetite
While almost everyone recovers from Hepatitis A, recovery may take several weeks. In severe cases, liver failure may occur, which can be fatal. The Hepatitis A vaccine is administered in 2 doses within a 5-12-month period.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
Similarly, Hepatitis B is also transmitted by a virus via blood, transfusions, body fluids, sexual contact and communication between mother and child during pregnancy and delivery.
Hepatitis B symptoms can either be mild and last for weeks or it may lead to severe liver failure. Persons who contract this disease become lifelong carriers. Hepatitis B symptoms include:
- Pale coloured stool
- Tea coloured urine
- Poor appetite
A carrier of this disease may eventually develop liver failure, liver cancer or liver cirrhosis. The Singapore National Immunisation Schedule includes the Hepatitis B vaccine. However, you may lose your protection as time progresses. To ascertain whether additional vaccination is required, we recommend that you schedule a simple blood test to screen for antibodies. Our doctors will gladly provide more information on the process.
The Hepatitis B vaccine is a three-dose course.
For convenience, you can choose the Twinrix option that offers both Hepatitis A and B vaccines.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 9-valent Vaccine
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 9-valent vaccine immunizes against HPV viral strains. It effectively reduces the risk of developing vaginal, cervical and vulva cancer-associated with the aforementioned HPV strains. It also protects against genital warts.
Although the HPV 9-valent vaccine is recommended to unvaccinated men and women in the 9-26 age bracket, older persons can still be vaccinated and enjoy a measure of protection. The vaccine was also recently approved by the US FDA for persons 27-45 years old. The vaccination is administered in three doses (initially, at two months and at six months).
Chickenpox and shingles are both caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This virus is spread via the air, direct contact, and droplets. It is highly contagious.
- Cold symptoms
- Itchy, painful rash about the body
The disease tends to be severe in adults and babies. Children are affected to a lesser extent.
Additional complications may include brain infection and pneumonia. Shingles may occur in adults who have a compromised immune system. Persons who have had chickenpox can take an antibody blood test to determine if they require the vaccine. The vaccine is administered in 2 doses over a four-week period.
Tdap Vaccine (Bootrix)
This combination vaccination provides protection against pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough.
It is a part of the National Children Immunisation Programme in Singapore. Since antibody levels decrease over time, the vaccination is available in a single dose every decade (10 years).
The MMR vaccine protects against mumps, measles, and rubella viral diseases. These diseases are transmitted through air droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
You should get the MMR vaccine if you were not completely vaccinated as a child. We recommend that teachers, healthcare workers and travellers to poorly vaccinated countries be vaccinated. Women who plan to get pregnant and have never been vaccinated should do so three months before attempting conception.
You may speak to your doctor if you are unsure whether or not you received the MMR vaccine. A simple antibody test will be performed to determine if you need this vaccine.
There has been some skepticism regarding the MMR vaccine, with some claiming it may cause autism. However, this is an entirely baseless claim and vaccination should be a priority at any age.
The vaccine is given in two doses one month apart.
The pneumococcal vaccine offers protection against pneumococcal diseases triggered by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae.
The pneumococcal disease group include the following infections: pneumonia (lung), Otis media (ear), meningitis (brain) and bacteraemia (blood).
Pneumococcal disease symptoms vary depending on the affected body part. However, the symptoms that they all have in common are:
- Chest pain
- Low-grade fever
- Brain fog
- Severe headaches
2 types of vaccines are available for Pneumococcal diseases namely:
- Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13)
- Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPSV23)
As the numbers at the end suggest, PCV13 protects against 13 bacterial strains and PPSV23 protects against 23 bacterial strains.
You are offered the most protection if you take both the PCV13 and PPSV23. We recommend that seniors 56 years and over get a dose of each.
If you are interested in getting any vaccinations that you need or may have missed, do reach out to us today!
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