Frequently Asked Questions

Click on any of the frequently asked questions below to view the answer to each:

Isn’t the HPV vaccine for cis women?

No, the HPV vaccine is meant for people of all genders.

The first public campaigns for the HPV vaccine focused on cis teenage girls but since that time, vaccination criteria have changed to include people of all genders. 


Don’t physical barriers guard against HPV?

Condoms and other physical barriers like dental dams provide only some “protection” and only in some situations. 
HPV is very easily transmitted. Simple skin-to-skin contact is enough for HPV to be passed between sexual partners. Wearing an external condom or using other barrierslike internal condoms or dental dams, can provide some protection because they reduce the amount of skin that comes in contact between sexual partners. However, no barrier method covers all the skin that might touch, and so is not fully effective. The best way of preventing HPV infection is the HPV vaccine Gardasil 9. Find out more information about preventing HPV infection.  


I have HPV, should I still get vaccinated?

Yes, because there are different types of HPV, and the vaccine can guard against kinds you don’t have. 
There are over 150 types of HPV, and the Gardasil 9 vaccine guards against the ones that cause over 90% of genital warts and others that are associated with different cancersWhen a person has had a genital wart, or a type of precancerous condition or form of HPV-caused cancer, you still may not have had other forms of HPV that the vaccine preventsThe HPV vaccine will not cure a type of HPV that you already have, but it can prevent you picking up the that the types that you don’t have. 


Are there tests for HPV?

While some HPV tests exist, they are not currently part of routine care in BC. 
Some private labs can test for certain forms of HPV that cause cervical cancer, but they are not part of routine STI testing or care in BC. Most types of HPV dont cause symptoms and are not harmful, and the body will often clear them up on its own, making direct testing unnecessary. The most common way that HPV can harm our health is by causing precancerous conditions that can develop into cancer in some casesRoutine cancer screening can detect these changes before they develop into cancer, when treatment is most effective. 
HPV is also responsible for over 90% of genital warts. A nurse or care provider can examine these warts and recommend treatment, without the need for further tests.  


Is there a way to set up a reminder for the shots?

We can sign up for email reminders at the recommended two and six months on the Gardasil 9 website if we’re worried that you might forget about and be late getting our future doses.


I missed a vaccine dose, do I start over again?

No, it is recommended that you continue with the next shot even if you’ve missed a dose. 

It’s recommended that you leave two months between the first and second shots and four months before our third for those over 15 years old. 

Although the vaccine is considered most effective when someone has it according to this schedule, it is recommended to continue with the order of shots even if we’ve waited longer between shots.


I got the Gardasil 4 vaccine, should I also get Gardasil 9?

This will depend on a person’s body and health circumstances. and is best discussed with a doctor or trusted health care provider. 
Gardasil was originally developed to prevent the two types of HPV infection that result in most cases of anal and cervical cancers and the two types that cause over 90% of genital warts. Public vaccination campaigns used this version of Gardasil from 2006 until around 2017. This version of Gardasil is now known as Gardasil 4, because a newer version, known as Gardasil 9, prevents five more types of HPV that can also cause cancer. Cervarix is approved for use among cis women in Canada and guards against the 2 types that cause most cervical cancers, but was not used in public vaccination campaigns. 
Whether it is worth it or not to be vaccinated again with Gardasil 9 depends on a person’s body and health needs. The additional five types of HPV that Gardasil 9 guards against are most relevant to people with cervixes. These five types of HPV are responsible for an additional 15-20% of cervical cancers, and are associated with 11% of anal cancers in people with cervixes (compared to 4% of anal cancers in people without cervixes)If you have been vaccinated with Gardasil 4 and are unsure whether you should also be vaccinated with Gardasil 9, speak with a doctor or trusted health care. 
Currently in BC, if someone was vaccinated with Gardasil 4 and still qualifies under the provincial free vaccination program for people under 27, they are not eligible to receive Gardasil 9 for free. 


I started with Gardasil 4, can I finish with Gardasil 9?

Yes, you can finish with Gardasil 9. Gardasil 4 is no longer available in Canada, and you will get your second or third shot with Gardasil 9 even if you had your first or second with Gardasil 4. 
Gardasil 9 prevents the same four types of HPV that Gardasil 4 guards against, plus five more. Getting a second and/or a third shot with Gardasil 9 after beginning the series of three shots with Gardasil 4 will provide the same protection against those four types. It will also guard against the additional five types that Gardasil 9 prevents, even if it isn’t as complete as having had all three shots with Gardasil 9.  


What are the possible side effects with Gardasil 9?

Gardasil 9 is not associated with any unusual negative side effects or reactions. Some people may experience side effects that aren’t uncommon for any vaccine, like soreness or swelling. 

Hundreds of millions of doses of the Gardasil vaccines have been administered around the world since public vaccination campaigns began fifteen years ago. This was done only after thorough clinical trials showed the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.  

Gardasil 9 is not associated with any unusual negative side effects or reactions. Some people will experience soreness or swelling where the vaccine was given, or fever, headaches, and/or muscle or joint aches or soreness shortly after. These side effects are similar to most other vaccines.