HPV Vaccine (Gardasil®)

Young women's version of this guide

VaccinationYou may have heard about Gardasil 9® on TV, at a health care provider’s office, or from a friend. It’s an  important vaccine  recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) for use in young men and boys. This means that guys  have a great preventive option against the types of the HPV virus that cause genital warts and anal cancer.

What is HPV?

There are about 150 different types of HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and more than 40 are sexually transmitted. Researchers keep track of the different types of HPV by identifying them with numbers – such as 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.

Some types cause genital warts and other infections in the mouth and throat. In rare cases, the virus can cause other types of cancers to the vulva, vagina, anus in girls, the anus and penis in guys, and the back of the throat, base of the tongue, and tonsils in both.

How do people get HPV?

HPV is spread through sexual contact, most often during vaginal and anal sex. It can also be passed on through digital contact and oral sex. In order for you to contract HPV, you have to have skin to skin contact with a person who already has HPV.

What can I do to prevent getting HPV?

The only sure way to prevent getting HPV is to get the HPV shot or to not  sexual contact If you’re having sexual contact, you can reduce your risk of infection by having a monogamous sexual relationship (having sex with only one person who only has sex with you) and by using condoms 100% of the time. Condoms aren’t perfect because they don’t cover all of the skin in the genital area, but they do lower chances of HPV infection.

Gardasil 9® protects young women and men against nine different types of HPV including the four previously covered by Gardasil® (6, 11, 16, 18) and five additional types (31, 33, 45, 52, and 58). Overall, Gardasil 9® is expected to prevent 90% of genital warts. It can also prevent some anal cancers.

Is the vaccine safe?

The vaccine is considered safe by FDA standards. It’s not made with a live virus that can cause an HPV infection. It does not contain mercury or thimerosal.

What about side effects?

Side effects are rare; however, some young men who get the vaccine may have pain, swelling, or redness where they got the injection. These temporary discomforts will go away within a few days. In very few cases, people may get a fever, feel dizzy, or feel nauseous. Some people have fainted after receiving the vaccine, so if you plan on getting it, it’s a good idea to sit or lie down for 10-15 minutes afterwards.

It’s very uncommon to have side-effects from vaccines. If you think you might have had a side-effect from a vaccine, talk to your health care provider. You can also call 1-800-822-7967 or visit vaers.hhs.gov.

When can I get vaccinated?

The HPV vaccine works best for both boys who have not yet come in contact with these viruses. It is recommended for all adolescents 11 and 12 year olds as a routine vaccination and for everyone between 13-26 years of age who have not yet received the vaccine

The HPV is less effective in young men who have already come in contact with the HPV types in the vaccine. However, if a person has been exposed only to one of the types, the vaccines still gives protection against the remaining types. So, even people who have had sexual contact should get immunized.

How many shots do I have to get?

Anyone receiving the HPV vaccine before their 15th birthday needs a total of 2 doses. The 2nd dose should be given 6-12 months after the first one.

However, anyone starting the HPV vaccine series after they turn 15 years old still needs to get 3 doses. The 2nd dose should be given 1-2 months after the first dose and the 3rd dose should be given 6 months after the first dose.

Will my insurance cover the vaccine?

Most private health insurance plans cover the HPV vaccine. If you do not have insurance, there are programs available to help you get the vaccine for little to no cost.  If you must pay for the vaccine on your own, it typically costs about $250.

If you’re wondering about Gardasil 9®, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your provider: “I’ve heard that there are HPV vaccines for guys – can I get it?”