Gardasil FAQ

Does HPV affect males and females?

Yes. Both men and women can get HPV and pass it on without even realizing it. HPV will affect an estimated 75% to 80% of males and females in their lifetime. For most, HPV clears on its own. But, for others, certain HPV diseases—such as cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers and genital warts—can develop. There is no way to predict who will or won’t clear the virus.


Is GARDASIL only for girls and young women?

No. GARDASIL was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in boys and young men ages 9 to 26 to help protect against 90% of genital warts cases.

GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone, nor will it protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


Is the same vaccine given to both females and males?

Yes, males will receive the same vaccine that females do. GARDASIL is given as 3 injections over 6 months. GARDASIL helps protect males and females ages 9 to 26 from 90% of genital warts cases. GARDASIL also helps protect females ages 9 to 26 from about 75% of cervical, 70% of vaginal, and up to 50% of vulvar cancer cases.

Anyone who is allergic to the ingredients of GARDASIL, including those severely allergic to yeast, should not receive the vaccine. GARDASIL is not for women who are pregnant.


How safe is GARDASIL?

The safety of a vaccine is an important part of its story.

The common side effects include pain, swelling, itching, bruising, and redness at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and fainting. Fainting can happen after getting GARDASIL. Sometimes people who faint can fall and hurt themselves. For this reason, your health care professional may ask you to sit or lie down for 15 minutes after you get GARDASIL. Some people who faint might shake or become stiff. This may require evaluation or treatment by your health care professional.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA have reviewed all the safety information available to them. Based on data available to them as of May 2009, the CDC and FDA determined that GARDASIL continues to be safe and effective, and its benefits continue to outweigh its risks. In August 2009, the CDC reaffirmed its continued recommendation for vaccination with GARDASIL in females. In October 2009, the FDA approved the use of GARDASIL in boys and young men ages 9 to 26 to protect against 90% of genital warts cases.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


What do medical organizations say about HPV vaccination?

The CDC recommends routine vaccination with GARDASIL for girls ages 11 to 12, and for young women ages 13 through 26 who have not already been vaccinated.

The CDC states that GARDASIL can be given to boys and young men ages 9 through 26, if you and the doctor decide it’s right for your son.

Additional recommendations for females include:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
  • American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

The AAP and AAFP have not issued a statement on the FDA approval for use of GARDASIL in boys and young men.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


Could I get HPV or any disease caused by HPV from GARDASIL?

No. You cannot get HPV or any disease caused by HPV from GARDASIL. That’s because there is no live virus in the vaccine.

Instead, GARDASIL contains a protein that helps the body’s immune system produce antibodies against HPV—without causing an infection.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


With more than 30 genital HPV types, how effective is GARDASIL if it only protects against 4 types of HPV?

There are more than 30 genital HPV types. However, HPV Types 6, 11, 16, and 18 cause the most HPV-related disease in males and females. Each day in the United States, 30 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer (about 11,000 women per year) and it is estimated that each minute there is a new case of genital warts in men and women.

GARDASIL is the only HPV vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of HPV. In girls and young women ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against 2 types of HPV that cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause 90% of genital warts cases. In boys and young men ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against 90% of genital warts cases.

GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone, nor will it protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV. GARDASIL does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it’s important for women to continue routine cervical cancer screenings. GARDASIL does not treat cancer or genital warts. GARDASIL is given as 3 injections over 6 months.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


Why should I be concerned about genital warts?

It is estimated that each minute in the United States, there is a new case of genital warts. About 2 out of 3 people will get genital warts after having any kind of genital contact with someone infected. Treatment for genital warts can be a painful process and can involve cutting, freezing, or burning the warts. Even after treatment, genital warts can come back. In fact, 25% of cases come back within 3 months.

By getting vaccinated with GARDASIL you’ll help guard yourself against 90% of genital warts cases.

GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone, nor will it protect against diseases caused by other HPV types or against diseases not caused by HPV.

For more information on GARDASIL and HPV, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


If I’m already sexually active, is it too late for me to get vaccinated?

No, it still may make sense. Only your doctor or health care professional can tell you if GARDASIL is right for you. But, if you’re already sexually active, you may still benefit from GARDASIL. That’s because even if you have been exposed to HPV, you may not have been exposed to the types of the virus covered by GARDASIL. GARDASIL could still help protect you against the relevant HPV types to which you haven’t been exposed.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


I have children aged 11 and 12. Aren’t they too young to be vaccinated with GARDASIL?

Like other vaccines, GARDASIL works to help prevent illness. GARDASIL works when given before there is any contact with the relevant HPV types. Girls and boys as young as 9 can get vaccinated.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


What if I can’t afford GARDASIL?

Merck has created a vaccine patient assistance program for its line of vaccines for use in adults, including GARDASIL. Through this program, Merck provides free vaccines to adults who are 19 and older who are uninsured or unable to afford vaccines.

Additional information regarding the Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance Program can be found at http://www.merck.com/merckhelps/vaccines/home.html.

GARDASIL is also part of the Vaccines for Children Program, a federal program that helps to provide free vaccines to children and adolescents 18 years and younger who are either Medicaid eligible, American Indian or Alaskan Native, or uninsured, or whose health insurance does not cover shots.

Additional information regarding the Vaccines for Children Program can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


Do I need to get all 3 doses of GARDASIL from the same doctor?

You don’t need to get all 3 doses of GARDASIL from the same doctor. But make sure you let your doctor know if you have been previously vaccinated with GARDASIL and how many doses you received. You do need to follow the vaccination schedule to get the benefits of GARDASIL.

If you think e-mail and mail reminders will help you get your next 2 doses on time, we can help.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


What if I’m late getting my second or third dose of GARDASIL?

Ideally, your vaccination schedule should be:

First dose: at a date you and your doctor or health care professional choose.

Second dose: 2 months after the first dose.

Third dose: 6 months after the first dose.

Make sure you get all 3 doses on time so that you get the best protection.

If you’re a few days late getting your second or third dose of GARDASIL, don’t panic. If you miss a dose, your doctor or health care professional will decide when to give the missed dose.

One way to make sure you’re on time for your second and third doses is to make your follow-up appointments before you even leave your doctor’s office. If you think e-mail or mail reminders will help you get your next 2 doses on time, we can help.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.


Do women who get vaccinated still need to get Pap tests?

Yes. Vaccination with GARDASIL does not take the place of Pap tests (cervical cancer screenings). Women should always follow their doctor or health care professional’s advice on getting Pap tests.

Pap tests have been proven to help save lives. A Pap test looks for abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix before they have the chance to become precancers or cervical cancer.

And since GARDASIL does not protect against all types of HPV, Pap tests will still be an important part of taking control of your health—and taking care of yourself.

For more information on GARDASIL, talk to your doctor or health care professional.