Side Effects of the Gardasil Vaccine

Gardasil is used to prevent genital warts and cervical/vaginal/anal cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6, 11, 16, and 18 in girls and young women ages 9 through 26. Gardasil is also used to prevent genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11 in boys and young men ages 9 through 26. Human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause genital warts, cancer of the cervix, and various cancers of the vulva or vagina.

The quadrivalent form of HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is used in both females and males. Another form of HPV vaccine (Cervarix) is used only in females. This medication guide provides information only for Gardasil.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HPV vaccine for all girls ages 11 or 12 years old. The vaccine is also recommended in girls and women ages 13 through 26 years old who have not already received the vaccine or have not completed all booster shots.

You may receive Gardasil even if you have already had genital warts, or had a positive HPV test or abnormal pap smear in the past. However, Gardasil will not treat active genital warts or HPV-related cancers, and it will not cure HPV infection.

You should not receive a Gardasil booster vaccine if you have had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Developing cancer from HPV is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against it. However, like any medicine, Gardasil can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Gardasil: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. You may feel faint after receiving Gardasil. Some people have had seizure-like reactions after receiving this vaccine. Your doctor may want you to remain under observation during the first 15 minutes after the injection.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • severe stomach pain;
  • swollen glands;
  • easy bruising or bleeding, confusion, unusual weakness;
  • fever, chills, body aches, general ill feeling;
  • chest pain; or
  • feeling short of breath.

Less serious Gardasil side effects may include:

  • pain, swelling, redness, bruising, or itching where the shot was given;
  • mild fever, headache, dizziness, tired feeling;
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough; or
  • tooth pain, joint or muscle pain.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.