More tapping Medisave for cervical cancer vaccine

PHOTO: More tapping Medisave for cervical cancer vaccine

SINGAPORE - More young girls and women are tapping into their Medisave funds to pay for cervical cancer vaccine.

The vaccine is a course of three jabs that cost a total of $450. Each dose costs $150.

Since last November, 6,300 females aged nine to 26 have drawn on their immediate family members' or their own Medisave funds for the vaccine, reported The Straits Times.

About $1.6 million had been taken out of such medical saving accounts for injections of Gardasil and Cervarix.

The two vaccines give protection against two types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which is responsible for most cancers in the neck of the womb.

Cervical cancer is the sixth most common cancer among Singapore women.

"If using my Medisave wasn't allowed, I would have sat on it longer," said Ms Cheo Ying Hui, 24, to The Straits Times.

An additional 1,000 doses have been sold every month in the recent months. About 35,800 doses were sold between last November and June this year, against 27,800 doses sold between March and October last year.

Professor Roy Chan, director of National Skin Centre also said that the number of women taking the vaccine has doubled every year since 2008.

Being able to use Medisave to pay for the vaccine has also made Cervarix available in polyclinics, said a spokesman for GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of the vaccine.

Presently, the Ministry of Education does not include this vaccine in the vaccination programme for Singapore schools.

A spokesman from the ministry was, however, 'encouraged' by the response to the vaccines so far and has advised primary-care doctors to urge their young female patients to go for it.

From next year, the withdrawal limit for Medisave funds to pay for outpatient expensive, including the cervical cancer vaccine, will be raised from $300 to $400.

The new ceiling will come with the launch of Medisave400, which is the renamed Medisave300.