A Pediatric Provider Explains the Importance of the HPV Vaccine

Friday, October 5, 2018

Every year in the United States, 33,700 women and men are diagnosed with cancer caused by HPV infection. The good news? The HPV vaccination can help prevent these diseases with a success rate as high as 90% in some cases.

You might have seen the commercials pop up on your TV recently discussing HPV vaccinations. But what’s the big deal about these, and why are people talking so much about them?

“The age recommended for children to get their HPV vaccine has been getting younger and younger,” SouthCoast Health Nurse Practitioner Beth Lee stated. “With its incredible success rate of preventing such awful diseases, it’s really a must for any child.”

Learn more about the HPV vaccine and how it affects your children below.

What is the HPV Vaccine?

To answer this lets first define HPV. Otherwise known as Human papillomavirus, HPV is a virus that can potentially cause a wide variety of health problems, most commonly cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both men and women. It’s one of the most common STDs out there, which means this virus is spread through any kind of sexual intercourse.

The vaccine helps prevent the spread of the virus in the first place. Because of this, it’s vital to get the vaccine before your child becomes sexually active. It only takes one time with someone who has the virus to receive it yourself, even if it’s with your lifetime partner.

There are three brands of the vaccine: Gardasil, Gardasil 9, and Cervarix. All three protect from HPV types 16 and 18, which cause 70% of cervical cancer cases. Gardasil protects against 6 and 11, which cause up to 90% of genital warts, and Gardasil 9 protects against five other types.

How Does the HPV Vaccine Work?

Children as young as nine can receive the vaccine. However, you can get it all the way up to age 26.

If your child receives the vaccine between the ages 9-14, they’ll only need two shots. The second shot is injected six months after the first. If your child is age 15-26 when they get the vaccine, they’ll need a total of three shots. The second is two months after and the third is four months.

Though the side-effects aren’t usual, the most common is arm pain and tenderness, like with most vaccines. However, sometimes a mild fever, itching at the injection site, nausea, and headaches can occur.

Why Should My Child Receive the HPV Vaccine?

Unfortunately, there has been lots of skepticism and push back surrounding this vaccination, mostly due to the fact that it helps prevent a sexually transmitted disease. Many parents don’t want to think about their children being in danger of sexually transmitted diseases, so they avoid talking about this vaccine with their pediatricians. However, the HPV virus is so common that anyone who has sex in their lifetime is at a notable risk for developing it. In fact, about 20 million people in the U.S are already infected, and about 6.2 million more receive it every year.

As parents, you always want to protect your child from harm. Ensuring that your child receives the HPV vaccine goes a long way to prevent horrible pain and cancers, like cervical and penial cancers. While the vaccine can’t prevent all of the HPV strands, it’s still a whole lot of power for just two little shots.

If you have any more questions about the HPV vaccine, schedule an appointment with an expert SouthCoast Health Pediatrician by calling us at 912-691-3600. 


Whether you are looking for a primary care doctor or a pediatrician, an ObGyn or another medical specialist, SouthCoast Health has you covered with its wide range of world-class healthcare services, available throughout the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. SouthCoast Health has 120 physicians and medical professionals in 18 locations in Savannah, Richmond Hill, Pooler, Rincon, Baxley, Bluffton, Hilton Head, and Hinesville. SouthCoast Health offers comprehensive medical services including: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunity, Cardiology, Eye Care, Imaging, Infectious Diseases, Nephorology, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Pulmonology, Sleep Medicine, Surgery, Clinical Trial Research Studies, Diabetic Self-Management Training Sessions, Dietetic Counseling, High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic, Laboratory Services, Massage Therapy, Optical Shop, Pharmacy, and Urgent Care.