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GARDASIL: Questions Answered

HPV has spread like wildfire in recent years, affecting 6 million new Americans each year. In fact, the sexually transmitted disease that is spread through genital contact is so prevalent that 50% of sexually active men and women will get it at some point in their lives.

For this reason, more and more Americans are going for their GARDASIL vaccinations. GARDASIL helps protect against 4 types of HPV that are responsible for 75% of cervical cancer cases, 90% of genital warts, 70% of vaginal cancer cases and 50% of vulvar cancer cases.

In order to get the vaccination, you should consult your doctor or health care professional, but here are a few answers to some important questions you may have about GARDASIL:

Is GARDASIL just for females?
No. Both men and women can get HPV. In fact, it is estimated that 75-80% of men and women will have HPV in their lifetimes. HPV can also cause genital warts, and so the FDA has approved GARDASIL for both males and females ages 9-26.

Do I need to come back once I get the vaccination?
Yes. The GARDASIL vaccination is a series of three injections taken within 6 months. The second one should be taken 2 months after the first dose. And the third one should be taken 6 months after the first dose. If you miss a dose, speak to your doctor or healthcare professional.

Will GARDASIL help if I’m already sexually active?
Yes. Even if you have already been exposed to HPV, GARDASIL helps protect against other types of the virus you may not have been exposed to.

How much does it cost?
GARDASIL is covered under many health insurance plans. If you do not have an insurance plan that covers it, the cost is $120 per dose, plus any doctor visit fees. For those who need help paying for GARDASIL, there is a Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance Program and a Vaccine for Children Program, which offer free vaccines to uninsured adults and children.

What if my doctor doesn’t offer the GARDASIL vaccine?
Many doctors offices do not have the vaccine. You can have them write you a prescription, pick it up at a pharmacy, and then bring it back to them to administer the vaccine. Or just stop in at a health clinic such as The Women’s Choice Clinic in Brooklyn, NY where they will administer the vaccination right there.

GARDASIL only protects against 4 types of HPV. Is that effective?
Yes. Those 4 types of HPV are responsible for 75% of cervical cancer cases, 90% of genital warts, 70% of vaginal cancer cases and 50% of vulvar cancer cases. Women should still make sure to go for their Pap tests or cervical cancer screenings, even if they have been vaccinated.

Are there any safety concerns to keep in mind?
Pregnant women and anyone who is allergic to yeast or any other ingredient in GARDASIL should not receive the vaccination. Some side effects include pain, itching, redness, headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting and fainting. So you may choose to lie down for 15 minutes after getting vaccinated. Consult with your doctor or healthcare professional before taking GARDASIL.