People with minor illnesses (for example, diarrhea or a mild upper respiratory tract infection) can get the vaccine, but those with moderate or severe illnesses should wait until they recover.
To prevent falls in case of fainting, the vaccine recipient should remain seated or lying down for 15 minutes after the injection while a health professional observes her.
Seek medical attention if you notice any unusual conditions after the vaccination, such as a high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a serious allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness.
Pregnant women should not start the vaccine. Although it has not been thoroughly tested to determine if it's safe for the mother and unborn baby, and research is underway, according to the CDC. But receiving the vaccine when pregnant is not a reason to consider terminating the pregnancy. Women who are breast-feeding may safely get the vaccine.
Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to yeast or any other vaccine component, or to a previous dose, should not get the vaccine. Inform your doctor of any severe allergies.
Pap smears are strongly recommended for vaccinated women. Current guidelines advise beginning screening three years after the first sexual intercourse but not later than age 21, with repeat screening annually or at least every three years.
Use in men. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Gardasil vaccine for preventing genital warts in boys and men, from 9 through 26. Both cervical cancer and genital warts are caused by strains of the human papilloma virus, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. About two out of every 1,000 American men are diagnosed with genital warts each year.
The FDA said the new approval was based on a trial involving more than 4,000 boys and men, ages 16 to 26, that found that Gardasil was nearly 90 percent effective in preventing genital warts caused by two types of HPV. Other studies that looked at the immune response in boys ages 9 through 15 found that the vaccine would be just as effective in this younger age group. The FDA has also said that Merck, which manufactures Gardasil, is conducting additional studies to gather further information about the safety and effectiveness in boys and men.
Bottom line. For young women and men, Gardasil is an inactivated (not live) vaccine that protects against cervical cancer and genital warts. After reviewing available information, the FDA and CDC continue to find it safe and effective. Our advice: Consider the vaccine after you've discussed its risks and benefits with your physician.
If you have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, ask your health-care provider to file a VAERS form. Or call VAERS yourself at 800 822 7967, or go to http://vaers.hhs.gov.