Only one-third of U.S. women receive full HPV vaccine

A recent study showed that only around one-third of eligible young U.S. women complete the full course of the human papillomavirus vaccine.

The older the woman, the less likely it is that she has gotten even one of the three recommended doses for full protection against HPV, Reuters reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that girls and women between the ages of 11 and 26 receive HPV vaccinations, which can prevent instances of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer claims the lives of 4,000 U.S. women every year.

“This means that large numbers of teenagers are unprotected or underprotected from strains of HPV that lead to cervical cancer,” Kathleen Tracy, and assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said, according to Reuters.

The study was presented at the Ninth Annual American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference. It covers 9,660 women between the ages of nine and 26 that were eligible for the vaccine between August 2006 and August 2010.

The study showed that 39.1 percent received the single dose, 30.1 percent received two doses and 30.8 percent completed the entire three dose treatment, Reuters reports.

Tracy noted the simplicity of getting the first dose when the women are at a clinic for another reason and that getting additional doses adds to the complications. Women between the ages of 18 and 26 were less likely to be fully vaccinated, possibly due to the influence of the necessary parental consent for girls under 18 years of age.

“What we are exploring with the 18- to 26-year-olds is using mobile phone technology as a way to increase adherence to HPV vaccination by sending text messages,” Tracy said, according to Reuters.