Quarter of adolescent U.S. girls received HPV vaccine

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A quarter of girls aged 13-17 in the United States received Merck & Co’s Gardasil vaccine last year to protect against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer, the U.S. government said on Thursday.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided the first look at how many adolescent girls are getting the vaccine, which won approval in June 2006 for preventing cervical cancer and genital warts in young women and girls aged 9-26.

Based on data on about 3,000 girls nationwide, the CDC said 25 percent had received at least one dose of the three-shot series in 2007, which translates to about 2.5 million girls.

Just under a third of adolescents got shots against potentially deadly meningitis, another new vaccine.

“It generally takes about seven or eight years before you can go from a new vaccine all the way to having 90 percent coverage rate, which would be the eventual target,” Dr. Lance Rodewald, head of the CDC’s division of immunization services, said during a conference call with reporters.

“In general, we’re quite pleased with the results at 25 percent. But it points out that we’ve got a long ways to go.”

Rodewald said the CDC did not have estimates on how many women up to age 26 were getting the vaccine.

Gardasil targets four strains of the human papillomavirus, also called HPV, a common sexually transmitted virus that causes genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer.  Continued…

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