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Gardasil protects against the types of HPV (human papilloma virus) that lead to most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. Guard yourself against the possibility of cervical and other cancers by taking the Gardasil HPV vaccination - now available at all Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida locations. If you or a young person in your life lives in St. Pete, Sarasota, or the surrounding areas, ask your local Planned Parenthood health center about the HPV vaccine and how it can help prevent cervical or other cancers.

Some types of HPV are sexually transmitted and can infect the throat and the genital area, including the vulva, vagina, cervix, rectum, anus, penis, or scrotum. Some types of HPV may cause genital warts, and men are encouraged to take the Gardasil HPV vaccination as well in order to prevent genital warts.

Information About Gardasil

Gardasil is the only human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine that helps protect against four types of HPV. In girls and young women ages 9 to 26, Gardasil helps protect against two types of HPV that cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases, and two 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 its important for women to continue routine cervical cancer screenings. Gardasil does not treat cancer or genital warts, and it is given as three injections over six months.

How Does the HPV Vaccine Work?

The HPV vaccine protects against HPV types 16 and 18. They cause seven out of 10 cases of cervical cancer. It also protects against types six and 11. They cause nine out of 10 cases of genital warts. The vaccine makes your body's immune system produce antibodies to these HPV types. The antibodies protect you from getting infected with HPV.

The HPV vaccine is given in a series of three shots. You will get the second shot two months after the first shot. You will get the third shot four months after the second shot. So, in all, it takes six months to get all three shots. The vaccine will protect you against HPV for at least five years. It may last much longer, or you may need a booster shot. More studies need to be done to show how long it lasts.

How Safe Is the HPV Vaccine?

Studies show that the HPV vaccine is safe. In terms of women's health, the most common side effects are soreness, redness, swelling, or itching around the area where the shot is given. Some women get a mild fever. But these symptoms do not last long and pass on their own.

As with all vaccines, there is a very small risk of an allergic reaction. If you have dizziness, a fast heart beat, high fever, hives, or weakness, call your health care provider right away. If you have difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately.

Can I Get HPV from the HPV Vaccine?

No. There is no live virus in the vaccine, so it can't give you an infection.

If I Already Have an HPV Infection, Can the HPV Vaccine Treat It?

No, the HPV vaccine is not a treatment for HPV. It can only prevent a new HPV infection. But if you have HPV, the vaccine may help protect you from getting another type of HPV. There are treatments available for genital warts and for cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. Talk with your health care provider about what tests and treatments you may need.

Do I Still Need Pap Tests if I've Had the HPV Vaccine?

Yes. You should continue getting pap smear tests during your annual gynecological exams. The HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cancer, so it's still important for you to get pap smear tests to detect any cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer.

Where Can I Get the HPV Vaccine?

You can come into any of the Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida health centers to receive the HPV vaccination: St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Tampa, Fort Myers, Lakeland, Manatee, and Winter Haven. Call to make an appointment to get the HPV vaccination, or to discuss your options with a medical professional.