The HPV vaccine is extremely effective at preventing the women from developing cervical cancer, but it requires a series of three shots, ideally all given within a six-month window. Unfortunately, according to new research very few of the young women who receive the initial vaccine are following through and completing the full round of shots. The study looked at the insurance records of more than 270,000 girls and women in the U.S. who had gotten the first vaccine between 2006 and 2009. In 2006, more than 50 percent of them completed the full round of vaccines, but by 2009 that number was just 22 percent. Lead author of the study, Dr. Abbey B. Berenson, says not getting the whole spread of shots isn't going to help women: "All the data is based on three injections. Getting one shot does not protect, based on the data we have now."
The research didn't determine exactly why the follow through was so bad. However, it did show that those who got the shot from a clinic were less likely to follow through with the full treatment than those who got the shot from a pediatrician. The women who got the vaccines from a gynecologist were the most likely to complete treatment. Having to go back to the doctor three times in six months certainly does sound like enough of a pain in the ass that plenty of people would skip it. So it seems like if we want to up the completion rate and make sure girls aren't missing out on this kind of protection the key is finding a way to make the shots as hassle-free as possible to get.
Fewer Young Women Complete HPV Vaccine [New York Times]
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