Gardasil 9, manufactured by Merck, is the trade name for the human papillomavirus 9-valent vaccine. It is available to both males and females who are 9 through 45 years of age. The vaccine is intended to prevent certain cancers, precancerous conditions, and genital disorders caused by specific types of HPV. The 9 refers to nine strains of HPV out of 150. The nine that have been named as the culprit for the majority of particular kinds of cancer are types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58. The vaccine works by triggering the body to induce antibodies against human papillomavirus (HPV), which is typically a sexually transmitted disease.

Medicare Coverage for Vaccinations
When researching Medicare benefits to determine if Gardasil 9 is covered, look at the plan you are carrying for prescription drug coverage. If a vaccine is covered, it should be included in the plan’s formulary, which is the all-inclusive drug list for your plan. Coverage will be tied to the location of your primary residence and the type of plan you have. If you enrolled in Part A and B but not Part D, then your Medicare benefits for vaccinations will be limited to those covered under Part B. These include shots for the flu, pneumonia and hepatitis B.

Gardasil Controversy
Gardasil has been plagued with controversy since it arrived on the U.S. market in 2006. Though considered a breakthrough in protecting young girls against infection from specific HPV types, parents were concerned for health and social reasons. The health concern was a reaction to the fact that it was new and therefore suspect in terms of ramifications for the future. From a social perspective, some parents were disturbed that a vaccination to prevent a sexually transmitted infection would send the wrong message to their young daughters. After this first phase of Gardasil, boys became eligible to be vaccinated as well.

Medical Community Recommendations
An article published by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2018 shares alarming statistics about this rampant infection: 79 million Americans infected, 14 million new infections every year and an increase of HPV-related cancers from 30,000 in 1999 to 43,000 in 2015. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests that women who are 21 to 65 years old be screened for cervical cancer every three years. Additionally, women ages 30 to 65 should have HPV testing every five years. After age 65, the USPSTF recommends cervical cancer screening only for women at high risk or who have not a history of sufficient screening.

If you have concerns or questions about the Gardasil 9 vaccine, please discuss your options with your physician.

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