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The Washington Post flags some troubling news on the HPV vaccine front: A recent study suggests that girls and young women are increasingly failing to get all three of the necessary doses for the treatment to prove most effective.
Researchers at the University of Texas examined medical records for a three-year stretch ending in 2009 and found that while the numbers of girls getting the first shot continues to rise, the percentage of those who completed the three-shot program fell from about 50 percent in 2006 (the year the FDA approved the drug) to 20 percent only three years later. The findings were published last week in the American Cancer Society journal Cancer.
The Gardasil vaccine, which helps protect against the types of sexually transmitted human papilloma virus that cause cervical cancer and genital warts, is supposed to be administered three times, with the second shot two months after the first one and the third six months after the first shot. The researchers, who analyzed data for roughly 272,000 privately-insured American females, found that less than 4 in 10 girls who initiated the shots during the three-year window had gotten all three within a year of the first.
While the exact reasons for the trend remain unclear, the researchers think that physicians might not be doing a good enough job reiterating that the shot is supposed to be given three times. For more on that, you can read the study here [sub. required].