What Is Gardasil Vaccine and Why Is It Important in Preventing Cervical Cancer?

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 


The Gardasil vaccine for cervical cancer is the ultimate lifesaver and the first vaccine launched to curb all HPV (Human Papillomavirus)-)-associated cancers (including cervical cancer). According to the reports, it can reduce the chances of HPV-related cancers by 90%. The chief role of the vaccine is to prevent cervical cancer. It is the most common cancer in women, second only to breast cancer. Around the world, several cases of cervical cancer are registered, which comes to about 510,000 annually, and 288,000 fatalities are reported.

Gardasil vaccine for cervical cancer

In India, it is the most common cancer among women. According to recent statistics, the number of cases of cervical cancer in Indian women is about 120,000, and the death rate caused by the same is around 67,000. Gardasil vaccine, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, can be dispensed to both girls and boys. It is one of the three vaccines authorized by the United States; the other two included are Gardasil and Cervarix.

It also prevents genital warts. Gardasil 9 is the most common vaccine used. It blocks infections caused by HPV 6 and 11, which are responsible for 90% of genital warts. It also stops infection by HPV types 16 and 18, responsible for 80% of cervical cancer cases.

We are here to discuss the Gardasil vaccine, associated questions, and alternatives (if any).

How was the Gardasil vaccine for cervical cancer developed?

With DNA recombination technology, the L1 major capsid protein of HPV was introduced in yeasts. The yeast rearranges itself into virus-like particles (VLPs), which have the same L1 outer cover without the virus genetic material.

Inside the human body, the VLPs work as antigens to initiate an immune response against the virus. On exposure to the actual virus, the body produces antibodies to crush the L1 protein coat of the virus and stop it from releasing harmful genetic material.

What is the purpose of taking the Gardasil vaccine?

Gardasil’s work is to fight HPV (Human Papillomavirus). There are around 100 types of HPV, and 40 of them cause various conditions in the genital area. HPV spreads through sexual contact with a person already carrying the virus. Most of the time, people get naturally cured of HPV infections. But in some cases, the virus sustains the body and causes unusual skin growth and other changes, which lead to cancer.

HPV can lead to different types of cancer, and the Gardasil vaccine works to prevent them. The list of cancers caused by HPV is:

The vaccine also stops:

Who should take the Gardasil vaccine, and when?

It’s recommended to give the vaccine to girls and boys from the ages of 9 to 15. It’s considered ideal to give the vaccine before they are sexually active and exposed to HPV. If a person is infected with HPV, the vaccine might not show any effect as it is a preventive measure, not a treatment.

It’s advised to take two doses of the Gardasil vaccine at intervals of six months. But for teens and adults younger than 26, three-dose programs are introduced at the same six-month interval. For people older than 26 years of age, catch-up vaccinations were planned.

Under what conditions should you delay your vaccine?

If you are highly ill with a high temperature and your body is shivering, you should delay your vaccine dose. This was done to ensure there was no overlap between the symptoms of the illness and the reaction to the vaccine.

Who should not take the Gardasil vaccine?

Pregnant women should not take the vaccine. As well as people who are allergic to yeast or latex. If you have a previous record of severe reactions to any component of the vaccine or the first dose of the vaccine, you should not get the vaccine.

Can it be beneficial to take the vaccine when you are not a virgin?

Yes, it can be beneficial to take the Gardasil vaccination, even if you are not a virgin. As the vaccine will guard you against other strains of HPV, the strains that you haven’t encountered yet

Is the Gardasil vaccine for cervical cancer effective?

Ever since the vaccine launched on the market, it has marked a decrease in the cases of genital warts that cause cancer by 88% in teens and 81% in adult women.

How lasting is the Gardasil vaccine's effect?

According to the reports, Gardasil provides long-lasting effects (up to 12 years).

Does the Gardasil vaccine have any side effects?

As it is medicine, it has some side effects. Though It rarely comes to view. The common side effects associated with Gardasil are

Do you need to take a Pap test even after getting the vaccine?

Yes, you need to regularly take those detection tests (the Pap test), as the Gardasil vaccine does not give 100% efficiency in preventing cancer. Therefore, it is vital to take the test to identify any unusual changes in cells (if any) that might cause cervical cancer.

Do we have an Indian alternative to the Gardasil vaccine?

The Serum Institute of India is designing its vaccine (Cervavac). They have already received approval from the government to start their trial by the end of this year (2022).

Why does the vaccine not have 100% efficacy against cervical cancer?

The vaccine does not give 100% protection against cervical cancer because sometimes it is not strong enough to face the high-risk-causing virus. Also, there are other reasons for cervical cancer; these co-factors help in the uncontrollable growth of the cells, which leads to cancer. Co-factors like the intake of hormonal contraceptives, sexual activity at an early age, different sex partners, tobacco smoking, and infection with HIV can also lead to the development of cervical cancer.

Do people in the gay community need to take the Gardasil vaccine for cervical cancer?

When the girls take the vaccine, it indirectly ensures the protection of men against HMV, as vaccinated girls would not pass on the infection. But in the case of gay men, they are not safe like other men, and they may suffer from different cancers like those of the anus, penis, mouth, and throat.

Therefore, to avoid the following complications, people in the gay community are advised to take the Gardasil vaccine.

What are the other ways to prevent HPV infection and be safe from cervical cancer?

Condoms reduce the chance of spreading HPV infection and related diseases. It also decreases the chances of another HPV-related disease. A smaller number of sexual partners also reduces the chance of HPV infection.

We’ve learned about the role of the Gardasil vaccine in preventing cervical cancer. It is our responsibility to take the vaccine on time and encourage others to do so to fight against deadly cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

You cannot just start from where you stopped or left. Depending on the duration of the period skipped, the program is redesigned by your doctor.

Yes, you can take other vaccines and Gardasil at the same time. But the same syringe should not be used to give two vaccines, nor should you take the two vaccines at the same site. Reports have shown no change in the performance of the vaccine when administered to others.

No, it has the L1 protein coat of the HPV virus. However, it does not have viral DNA, so it is not a live vaccine. Therefore, it does not generate any infections or cancer.

Yes, Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccine, as it prevents infections caused by four strains of HPV: 6, 6, 11, 16, and 18. It helps in avoiding all the diseases caused by this virus but does not treat any present infections.

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