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37% of U.S. Teen Girls Got HPV Vaccine

Only 18% Received All 3 Shots; Coverage Varies by State
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 17, 2009 -- More than one in three U.S. teen girls has had at least one shot of Gardasil, a CDC survey shows, but only 18% of girls got the three shots needed for protection.

The survey includes girls vaccinated through 2008, two years after Gardasil's approval. A second HPV vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, is expected to be approved this year.

Gardasil, from Merck, protects against the four strains of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause most cases of cervical cancer and genital warts. But other HPV strains also cause these diseases, so even vaccinated women still need regular Pap exams.

Gardasil's acceptance varied widely by state. More than half of all teen girls aged 13 to 17 had at least one shot of the HPV vaccine in six states: Arizona, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Fewer than one in five girls got the vaccine in three states: Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

Coverage was highest in Rhode Island (54.7%) and New Hampshire (54.4%) and lowest in Mississippi (15.8%) and Georgia (18.5%).

Cervical cancer is more common in women of Hispanic descent and in people living below the poverty level. Perhaps because the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides the expensive vaccine to uninsured children, girls in these groups had higher rates of coverage than other girls.

The CDC reported results of the survey in today's issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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