Available vaccines to prevent cancer

Vaccines are medicines that help the body fight disease by teaching the immune system to find and destroy harmful germs and cells. Many people are vaccinated against common diseases throughout their lives. There are vaccines that prevent cancer and vaccines that treat cancer.

HPV statistics:

  • Cervical cancer is reported to be found in more South African women than the global average.
  • 5 743 new cases are reported each year.
  • Approximately 3 000 women die each year due to cervical cancer in South Africa.
  • 99% of cervical cancers are associated with HPV.
  • Almost 7 in every 10 people will have HPV at some point in their lifetime.
  • 2 strains of HPV (HPV-16 and HPV-18) are found to cause over 70% of cervical cancer cases.
  • Cervarix is the vaccination that is administered in 2 doses for optimal cover. It protects against the HPV-16 and HPV-18 strains.

There are two HPV vaccines that are available. Both vaccines are currently only available in the private sector, and each vaccine costs more than R100 for 3 major injections. Gardasil and Cervarix are two vaccines available in South Africa.



  • Protection against several tetravalent strains: strains 6,11,16 and 18 
  • 3 injections within 6 months.
  • Suitable for girls and young women between the ages of 9 and 26.
  • Not for pregnant women.
  • Cervical cancer and genital warts are not treated.
  • It does not protect against diseases caused by other HPV types.
  • It is important to continue regular screening for cervical cancer.



  • An injection that works for two types of the human papillomavirus (types 16 and 18).
  • Cervarix is given in two or three doses depending on age.
  • 9 to 14-year-olds can be given two doses, six months apart. If necessary, the second dose can be given between 5 and 13 months after the first dose.
  • Teens aged 15 and above are given three doses. It is recommended that there is one month between the first and second doses and five months between the second and third doses.
  • It is absolutely important that individuals who’ve received the first dose of the vaccine complete the course of vaccination.


The vaccination protects girls from being infected by HPV and reduces the risk of developing HPV related cervical cancer later in life. The younger your daughter is, the better her body’s immune system can respond to the vaccine, resulting in the production of protective antibodies against the virus.

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