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U.S. News

Cervical Cancer Vaccination Rate at 25 Percent, U.S. Says

October 10, 2008

Data released Thursday show about a quarter of US adolescent females received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil last year.

"For a new vaccine, 25 percent is really very good," said Lance Rodewald, director of CDC's division of immunization. "We need to see that rate every year if we are going to meet our goal" of 90 percent of adolescent girls vaccinated against HPV, he said.

Gardasil, which came to market in June 2006, protects against strains of the STD that are responsible for around 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. CDC recommends girls receive the vaccine when they are 11 or 12, before they become sexually active.

But Gardasil has not been well-received by all. Some scientists question its long-term efficacy. Consumer advocates dislike its high cost -- $360 for a three-shot series. And conservative groups worry that giving it to young girls could encourage promiscuity.

The new data come from the second year of CDC's annual National Immunization Survey for Teens. Researchers conducted telephone interviews with a representative sample of nearly 3,000 teenagers ages 13-17, then confirmed their answers with vaccination records from physicians.

The study showed 25.1 percent of girls in the group had received at least one dose of Gardasil. Just a quarter of that group had received all three doses, which are administered over six months.

W. Martin Kast, an immunologist with University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, said data released earlier this year by Gardasil's maker, Merck & Co., showed just 1 percent of Latina teens were receiving the vaccine. "They are the population that needs it the most" due to relatively high rates of HPV infection, he said.

The percentage of teens receiving two other relatively new vaccines was up: 32 percent of teens had had the meningitis vaccine, up from 20 percent; and 30 percent received the tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough vaccine, up from 19 percent, CDC said.

The report, "Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13-17 -- United States, 2007," was published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2008;57(40):1100-1103).

Back to other news for October 2008

Adapted from:
Los Angeles Times
10.10.2008; Thomas H. Maugh II

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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