Gardasil Side Effects

by on June 13, 2012


Gardasil side effects have been closely studied through several clinical trials. About 21,000 patients participated in the trials, representing females between the ages of 9 and 26. Most of the reported side effects are mild and do not pose a serious health threat with the most common complaint being injection site pain or irritation. No serious side effects have been connected to Gardasil, although there has been a great deal of controversy over the safety of this vaccine.

Common Gardasil Side Effects

Many people experience mild side effects when they receive the Gardasil vaccine. As with many vaccinations, the most common side effects relate to the injection site. Pain in the area where the vaccine is administered occurs in most patients and many individuals will also experience redness or swelling around the site. These symptoms will usually improve within a few days. Other possible side effects of Gardasil include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cough
  • Toothace
  • General ill feeling
  • Pain in the joints
  • Sleep difficulties or insomnia
  • Stuffy nose or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Muscle pain

If any of the side effects above are severe or do not go away, contact your physician.

Serious Gardasil Side Effects

There is a very low chance that a serious allergic reaction could occur after receiving Gardasil. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:

  • Shallow or difficult breathing
  • High fever
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Swelling of the throat, face, or tongue

Fainting may occur in a small number of people who receive vaccinations. This is especially common in adolescents. Your doctor may want to observe you for a short period of time following the injection to prevent serious injuries that could result from fainting, such as head injuries or broken bones from a fall.


Between 2006 and 2008, 23 million Gardasil vaccines were administered. During this time period, about 12,400 reports were filed regarding various adverse side effects that occurred after receiving the medication. Just over 6% of the reported events were considered to be serious by the CDC and the FDA and 32 of those cases resulted in death. The most concerning cases involved fainting and venous thrombosis, or blood clots that could lead to pulmonary embolism - potentially fatal blood clots in the lungs.

Further studies found that the deaths reported after the use of Gardasil could be explained by other underlying causes and were not directly linked to the Gardasil vaccination. You should still be aware of these dangers and report any signs of blood clots to your doctor immediately. These include pain, tenderness, swelling, and/or warm, red skin. Any unusual symptoms should be reported following a Gardasil vaccine. There is a possibility that other side effects may exist.


As a pregnancy category class B drug, the effects of Gardasil during pregnancy are unknown in humans. In animal studies, no dangers have been recorded. Category B drugs may be safe during pregnancy, but are usually not recommended unless there are obvious benefits that outweigh the possible endangerment of the fetus. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant are advised to receive the Gardasil vaccine after childbirth. Let your doctor know if you think you may be pregnant. He or she may wait until you know for sure to administer Gardasil.

Gardasil is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding.

Gardasil and STDs

While Gardasil offers protection against some types of the common sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus (HPV), it is designed as a cancer vaccine, not as STD prevention. It is important to note that Gardasil only prevents this condition and does not treat it. Individuals who already have HPV, or genital warts as a result of HPV, should discuss treatment options with their doctor and should not take Gardasil.

Serious, life-threatening Gardasil side effects have been a major concern to parents and health care providers. After extensive studies and research, the FDA and CDC have concluded that Gardasil is a safe and effective way to protect young women and men from the dangers of cancer caused by HPV and that the potential side effects are minimal.