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The vaccine against human papillomavirus is highly effective in preventing cervical cancer, but researchers report that the percentage of young women completing the required three vaccinations is low and dropping.
Scientists studied insurance records of 271,976 girls and women in the United States who received an initial vaccination from 2006 to 2009. Ideally, the three shots should be given to 11- and 12-year-old girls within a six-month window. Catch-up shots are advised up to age 26.
The rate at which the young women completed the series within a year dropped to less than 22 percent in 2009 from more than 50 percent in 2006. There was an increase in completion only among the 2 percent of women older than 27 who received the shots off-label, to 24 percent in 2009 from 15 percent in 2006. Those who received the vaccination from a clinic were less likely to complete the series, compared with those who received the shots from a pediatrician. Those who got the vaccinations from a gynecologist were most likely to get all three shots.